Iran has been told it should prepare to be hit by a range of UK sanctions in the aftermath of its seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf, according to media reports.
Iran responded by warning the UK to refrain from any “dangerous and unwise” moves against the Islamic republic.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce on Sunday diplomatic and economic measures, including potential asset freezes, as a response to the incident, according to a report in the London Daily Telegraph.
Britain could push for United Nations and E.U. sanctions to be reimposed on Iran after they had been lifted in 2016 following the JCPOA deal negotiated by former U.S. President Barack Obama on Iran’s nuclear program, the newspaper reported.
Britain has denounced Iran’s Friday seizure of the oil tanker as a “hostile act”, rejecting Tehran’s explanation that it had seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident.
In a letter to the UN Security Council late on Saturday, Britain said the tanker was approached by Iranian forces when it was in Omani territorial waters exercising its lawful right of passage, and the action “constitutes illegal interference”.
“Current tensions are extremely concerning, and our priority is to de-escalate. We do not seek confrontation with Iran,” the letter said. “But it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to threaten shipping going about its legitimate business through internationally recognised transit corridors.”
On Sunday, Iran’s envoy to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted the,“UK government should contain those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the UK well beyond the issue of ships. This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region”.
“Iran however is firm and ready for different scenarios.”
UK government should contain those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the UK well beyond the issue of ships. This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region. Iran however is firm and ready for different scenarios.
— Hamid Baeidinejad (@baeidinejad) July 21, 2019
Meanwhile in an audio recording released by a maritime security risk firm, a British naval officer can be heard warning the transit of a British-flagged vessel through the Strait of Hormuz must not be impaired under international law, just before it is seized by Iranian military forces.
The same recording has an Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer telling the Stena Impero to change course, saying: “You obey, you will be safe.”
The audio released Sunday by Dryad Global shows how the Royal Navy was unable to prevent the ship’s seizure by Iranian forces.
AFP contributed to this report