Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced on Friday they had confiscated a British tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules”. The tanker “was led to the shore and handed over to the organisation to go through the legal procedure and required investigations,” it said. A series of such incidents have sent tensions soaring between Iran on one side and the US and its allies on the other, raising fears of a regional war in the Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is the conduit for nearly a third of the world’s crude oil.
Condemning the seizure, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemning the incidents as “unacceptable” and saying he was “extremely concerned” by the incidents.
“I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz,” he said in a statement. “These seizures are unacceptable."
The Stena Impero tanker “was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organisation when passing through the strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules,” the Guards’ official website Sepahnews announced.
The Swedish owners of the Stena Impero said the vessel had come under “attack” in the Strait of Hormuz.
Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management said in a statement that it “can confirm that... our managed vessel Stena Impero was attacked by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter while transiting the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters”.
“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now tracking as heading north towards Iran,” it said.
The announcement came just hours after Gibraltar's Supreme Court announced it would extend by 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago on allegations that it was headed to Syria in violation of sanctions.
On Thursday, Trump said the USS Boxer had downed an Iranian drone that threatened the amphibious assault ship as it was entering the Strait.
The alleged incident came after Iran shot down a US drone last month, nearly sparking retaliatory strikes.