29.09.2020

Iran says it has seized British oil tanker in the Gulf

The IRGC seized the tanker Sterna Impero at the request of the maritime authorities in the Iranian province of Hormozgan for “not following international maritime regulations,” Iran’s state television reported. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) said its forces have captured a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly violating international laws, amid rising tensions in the Gulf.

The vessel was seized by “small crafts and a helicopter” at 1500GMT and was currently headed north towards Iran, the owner of the vessel, Stena Bulk, and Northern Marine Management said, adding that they are “presently unable to contact the vessel”.

There are 23 crew members on board, their statement added.

Britain said it was urgently seeking further information after reports that a British-flagged tanker had taken a turn into Iranian waters.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said.

This comes a day after the IRCG said it had seized a foreign tanker accused of smuggling oil with a crew of 12 on Sunday.

The Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, the world’s most important waterways for the transport of oil, has become a hotspot for tensions with Iran amid a spate of incidents there.

Relations between Britain and Iran and the United States and Iran have soured in particular.

Earlier this month, British Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar for allegedly violating sanctions against Syria.

On Friday, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court extended for 30 days the detention of the seized Iranian supertanker, Panama-flagged Grace 1, which was intercepted off the southern tip of Spain on July 4.

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