UK's Jeremy Hunt Calls Tanker Seizures 'Unacceptable,' Will Respond in 'Robust' Manner
22:56 19.07.2019(updated 00:40 20.07.2019)
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Friday that an emergency meeting of cabinet members would be called in response to the recent tanker seizures by Iran.
Hunt went on to call the acts "unacceptable", adding that he is "extremely concerned" by the acts committed by the Iranian state in the Strait of Hormuz. The official went on to note that UK cabinet members would be attending an emergency meeting in an effort to review the details of the matter and to determine what can be done.
"These seizures are unacceptable," Hunt said in a statement. "It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region."
Speaking on the Stena Impero and allegedly seized Liberian-flagged Mesdar oil tankers, Hunt stated that both vessels' crews comprise members with a variety of nationalities, but that it's understood that no British citizens were aboard either ship. It has been reported that Russians were aboard the UK's Stena Impero.
British officials have been in contact with the UK ambassador in Tehran, who has in turn reached out to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hunt has indicated that the UK is working closely with international partners in order to assess the seizures. One of those partners include US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Hunt has indicated he has spoken with about the developing matter.
It should be noted that moments following Hunt's remarks, it was reported that the Mesdar was not seized by Iranian officials, rather the vessel was briefly board by armed officials and issued a warning over its adherence to safe navigation practices and environmental standards.
Speaking to Sky News, the foreign secretary indicated that there would be "consequences" should Iran fail to release the Stena Impero. However, he did note that he was not looking into military options.
The latest development marks an escalation in tension between UK and Iranian officials following the recent detainment of Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this month. Reports indicate that the Grace 1 will be detained for an additional 30 days.
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