Iran on Sunday slammed as “hostile” a UK push for a European-led naval mission to escort tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz, amid heightened tensions over the seizure of foreign-flagged vessels.
“We heard that they intend to send a European fleet to the Persian Gulf which naturally carries a hostile message, is provocative and will increase tensions,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
France, Italy and Denmark gave initial support for a British plan for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, proposed after Iran’s July 19 seizure of a British-flagged tanker, three senior EU diplomats said last week.
One-fifth of all global crude exports passes through the narrow strait between Iran and Oman.
In his comments on Sunday, the Iran government spokesman countered, saying Iran believed the security of the oil-rich Gulf had to be maintained by countries in the region.
“We are the biggest agent of maritime security in the Persian Gulf,” said Rabiei.
The 33-kilometre (22-mile) wide Strait of Hormuz provides the eastern entrance and exit point into the Gulf and runs between the United Arab Emirates and Iran.
Last Wednesday a large British-registered tanker sailed through the Strait of Hormuz accompanied by a Royal Navy frigate, as Breitbart News reported.
BW Group’s Isle of Man-flagged gas carrier BW Elm made the passage despite UK government guidance to avoid the route, according to Lloyd’s List.
The 2007-built BW Elm is the first British vessel above 10,000 dwt seen to transit the passage since Stena Impero, a UK-flagged, Stena Bulk-owned product tanker, was seized by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
British warship HMS Montrose closely shadowed the vessel but did not provide a direct escort.