July 22, 2019
Britain is looking into a series of options to respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker, junior defense minister Tobias Ellwood said on Sunday when asked whether London was considering putting sanctions on Tehran.
“Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure that we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture,” he told Sky News.
Asked about the possibility of sanctions, he said: “We are going to be looking at a series of options … We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.”
The Stena Impero was intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz late Friday by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces.
The seizure prompted condemnation from the UK and its European allies as they continue to call for a de-escalation of tensions in the critical waterway.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to use a Commons statement on Sunday to announce a package of diplomatic and economic measures, including possible asset freezes, in response to the capture, reported the Telegraph on Saturday.
The UK could also push for European Union and United Nations sanctions to be reimposed on the Iranian regime after they were lifted in 2016 as part of a deal on its nuclear program, which saw billions of dollars of assets unfrozen and allowed the country’s oil to be sold internationally.
Hunt said Saturday that Britain’s response “will be considered but robust.”
He said the ship’s seizure shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous and destabilizing path. He also defended the British-assisted seizure of Iran’s supertanker two weeks ago as a “legal” move because the vessel was suspected of breaching European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
Iranian officials “see this as a tit-for-tat situation, following Grace 1 being detained in Gibraltar.
Nothing could be further from the truth,” Hunt said later Saturday.