Iranian MPs support seizure of British tanker

July 21, 2019 - 21:50

TEHRAN – A number of Iranian MPs issued a statement on Sunday expressing support for seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

The statement was signed by 160 lawmakers.

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.

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.”

On Saturday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt telephoned Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the issue.

Zarif said, “In contrast to the illegal move of Britain in seizing the tanker carrying the Iranian oil, our move was done based on the request of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization.”

Zarif told Hunt that "due process" must be followed in relation to the tanker.

On July 4, Britain captured a supertanker carrying the Iranian oil by claiming that it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions.

Britain has warned ships connected to the country's shipping industry to "stay out of the area" in the interim, CNN reported on Saturday.