US Secretary of State Pompeo on Iran's Seizure of Oil Tanker: Up to UK to Take Care of its Ships
14:12 22.07.2019(updated 15:28 22.07.2019)
Pompeo was previously tight-lipped on the recent detention of a British tanker by Iran. One of the authors of the US administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran, he earlier blamed the Islamic Republic for a string of attacks in the region, despite Iran's denial of any involvement.
In a surprise move, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has kept away from the ongoing diplomatic spat between London and Tehran, saying that it "falls to" the UK to protect its ships in the Persian Gulf.
Speaking to Fox & Friends on Monday, Pompeo also highlighted that the United States does not want war with Iran.
The US top diplomat said on Saturday that Iran has to "decide that it wants to behave like a normal nation," and expressed a desire to hold dialogue with the Islamic Republic if it bows to US demands for an array of sweeping concessions on its nuclear and missile programmes.
His comments came after another escalation in the Iranian crisis. On Friday night, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps boarded and seized a British-registered tanker, which they say had breached maritime regulations.
The Stena Impero has been taken to a port in southern Iran pending an investigation. Local media have recently shared footage from the main deck showing an Iranian flag flown on the tanker.
The UK has condemned the move and reported Iran to the United Nations.
British officials have held a series of emergency meetings in the past few days, where they discussed ways to protect vessels passing through the strategic chokepoint, as well as the possibility of sanctions against Iran.
Following the incident, the UK has reportedly decided to deploy a nuclear-powered sub to spy on the Iranian military in the region and use the data for the benefit of British vessels.
Tehran has made it no secret that the seizure came in retaliation to the arrest of the Iranian-linked tanker by the UK two weeks ago. The vessel, which is currently being held in Gibraltar, is suspected of intent to transport oil to Syria in circumvention of EU sanctions.
Iran has denied any wrongdoing and accused the UK of "piracy", saying that it wouldn't let it go unanswered.
On 10 July, several Iranian boats approached another British oil tanker but were warned off by a Royal Navy warship.
The United States earlier accused Iran of orchestrating several attacks in the region, including on foreign tankers, but Tehran has denied all allegations. European allies have also questioned US claims.
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