Iran warned yesterday that the fate of a United Kingdom-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain said it was considering options in response to the standoff.
Iran opened the probe after detaining the ship on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat. Its crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.
“All of them are in full health… anchored in a safe place,” said Allah-Morad Afifipoor, director-general of the Hormozgan province port and maritime authority. “The investigation depends on the cooperation by the crew members on the vessel,” he told Press TV.
Britain summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires at the weekend and urged his country to de-escalate tensions and release the tanker. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the seizure showed “worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour”.
Hunt called it a “tit-for-tat” situation, which flared hours after a Gibraltar court extended by 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago on allegations of breaching UN sanctions against Syria.
Yesterday, junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood told Sky News that Britain was “going to be looking at a series of options”, without giving further details.