Zarif: Iran’s move is fully within international maritime rules 

Iran stops UK tanker after it hits boat and ignores distress call

July 20, 2019

TEHRAN – Iranian forces late on Friday impounded a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for involvement in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat, after the tanker ignored distress calls.

Allah-Morad Afifipour, head of Ports and Maritime Organization in southern Hormozgan Province, said on Saturday that the 30,000-ton Stena Impero tanker had collided with a fishing boat on its route, adding that according to law, after an accident it is necessary that the causes are investigated.

Following the collision, those on board the fishing boat contacted the British vessel but didn't receive any response, so they informed the Hormozgan Maritime Organization according to the legal procedures, Afifpour added.

“Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold int’l maritime rules. As I said in NY, it is IRAN that guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf & the Strait of Hormuz. UK must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US,” Zarif tweeted.

Afifipour also noted that the tanker had been taken to Bandar Abbas port, where it and its crew will remain while a probe is carried out into the British vessel’s conduct. 

The tanker was not carrying any cargo, he said, adding the crew members of the ship may be interviewed on technical matters. 

“The investigation into the cause of the accident has started today,” he said. “All its 23 crew members will remain on the ship until the probe is over.”

“If necessary, and at the request of judicial authorities, the crew may be summoned for technical and specialist interviews,” Afifpour added. 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a tweet on Saturday, said Iran’s conduct towards the British tanker had been fully within international maritime rules. He also compared Iran’s action with a recent seizure of an Iranian tanker by the UK in Gibraltar.

“Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold int’l maritime rules. As I said in NY, it is IRAN that guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf & the Strait of Hormuz. UK must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US.”

Late on Friday, the British government advised UK ships “to stay out of" the Strait of Hormuz “for an interim period.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also warned that there will be “serious consequences” if the situation is not resolved.

On Saturday, Hunt tweeted that Tehran’s seizure of the UK-flagged oil tanker showed “worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior”. 

Tensions broke out between Tehran and London on July 4, after Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Iranian-owned oil tanker Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar, under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.

Reports, however, said the confiscation took place at the request of the U.S.

Tehran has condemned the seizure as “maritime piracy,” warning that it would not go unanswered. It has also rejected London’s claim that the ship had been bound for Syria.

SP/PA

Leave a Comment

5 + 1 =