/U.K. warns of ‘serious consequences’ over British oil tanker seized by Iran

U.K. warns of ‘serious consequences’ over British oil tanker seized by Iran

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

British ships warned to stay out of Strait of Hormuz.

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7/20/19, 10:55 AM CET

Updated 7/20/19, 12:24 PM CET

U.K. Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned there would be “serious consequences” after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf.

“We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences,” he told the BBC Friday evening. “We are not looking at military options. We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve this situation, but we are very clear that it must be resolved.”

The Stena Impero was seized in the Strait of Hormuz Friday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, amid rising tensions between Iran, the U.K. and the United States. A second tanker, Liberian-flagged but British operated, was briefly seized and then released.

Earlier this month, the Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker on its way to Syria, over suspicions it was in violation of EU sanctions. After threats of retaliation from Iran, London raised the threat level for British ships in Iranian waters to “critical,” the highest level.

Tehran maintains the Stena Impero was in violation of international maritime rules, an allegation the tanker’s owners deny. Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported the ship was seized after a collision with an Iranian fishing vessel.

The government “advised U.K. shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period,” a spokesperson told the BBC, adding that London was “deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would talk with London about the issue. “We’ll be working with the U.K., we have no written agreement, but we have an agreement which is longstanding,” he told U.S. media.

On Saturday, the French foreign ministry condemned the ship’s seizure and expressed “full solidarity with the U.K.”

“We call on Iranian authorities to free the boat and its crew as soon as possible and to respect the principles of free navigation in the Gulf,” the ministry said in a statement.

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