UK Tanker Given Military Escort Amid Iran's Promise to Respond to Ship Seizure - Report
Tehran has vowed to take reciprocal steps after British authorities last week seized a tanker while it was passing Gibraltar under the pretext that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria. London claims that it had the right to do so, as the tanker was allegedly violating the sanctions regime imposed by the EU on Damascus.
The British oil tanker Pacific Voyager, which recently sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, was apparently accompanied by a UK military vessel during its passage, the Marine Traffic tracking service showed on 9 July. Later, the British warship stopped following the tanker, but was soon replaced by a NATO military vessel in the Gulf of Oman.
It is so far unclear what led the two warships to follow the British oil tanker, but the situation comes amid tensions between the UK and Iran. Tehran has slammed a recent decision by British authorities to seize an oil tanker carrying crude oil, warning that it could take tit-for-tat measures against British vessels unless the tanker is released.
Bloomberg reported on the same day that in the wake of these tensions, an oil tanker belonging to the British energy giant BP took "shelter" inside the Persian Gulf, allegedly fearing that Tehran could follow through on its promise.
London claims that the Grace 1 tanker, seized on 4 June off Gibraltar, was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions against the Arab country's government. The 28 crewmembers of the super tanker are being interviewed as witnesses by British authorities in an effort to establish the nature of the freight and its final destination.
Iran denies claims that the oil was destined for Syria and lambasted London's actions as "piracy", warning that the incident has set "a dangerous precedent".
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