Theresa May chairs meeting to deescalate UK-Iran tensions over oil-tanker abduction

Theresa May, the outgoing UK prime minister, held an emergency meeting on Monday morning to resolve the ongoing tiff between Britain and Iran after latter abducted British oil tanker, Stena Impero, on Friday. May raised the security concerns for the ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow strip of water between Oman and Iran, through which one-third of the world’s seaborne oil travels.

It would be Britain’s third emergency meet but May’s first since the Iran’s abduction of UK-flagged tanker. The Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) emergencies meeting was to be held at around 10.30am local time. It was called May’s last crucial matter to sort before her resigning on Wednesday. The issue would need to be address by the next prime minister with great sensitivity. 

May’s Downing Street office released a statement that said, “As well as receiving the latest updates from ministers and officials, the COBR meeting will discuss the maintenance of the security of shipping in the Persian Gulf.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards justified the act saying that the tanker took a wrong route, ‘violating international maritime rules’. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that the tanker was seized after it rammed into with a fishing boat and UK ship did not to respond to calls from the boat.

Many claimed it to be a retaliatory move on the part of Iran, after Royal Navy took control of Iranian oil-tanker, Grace 1, off Gibraltar two weeks ago. UK forces seized the ship for it suspected the tanker to be carrying oil to Syria, which came in conflict EU sanctions.

On Sunday about 160 Iranian lawmakers issued a joint statement applauding the act of seizure by Iranian commandos, who rappelled from the helicopter onto the tanker.

Dryad Global, international waters security risk firm released an audio on Sunday, in which British naval officer from the HMS Montrose, patrolling the area, was heard telling Iranian patrolling wing: “Please confirm that you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena.”

Britain is aiming towards resolving the issue by building economic and diplomatic pressure with the help of its allies but is not considering the option of undertaking any military action. The possibility of UK imposing economic sanctions over Iran appear very slim as the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told BBC that are already a wide range of sanctions imposed on Iran, so Britain is not sure to add any to it. But Philip added,”it was an illegal act and we are going to pursue every possible diplomatic route to resolve the issue.”

The issue emerged amid US-Iran tension, which got intensified after US president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran’s exports, for building nuclear weapons. Iran’s recent act helped Trump in justifying his stand against the Islamic nation, whom he referred as, ‘Trouble, nothing but trouble’.

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