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Theresa May holds emergency COBRA meeting on Iran seizing UK tanker

Iran says seizure of UK-flagged tanker was 'legal measure'

May
Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May has held an emergency Cobra meeting after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a British-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The oil tanker was impounded on Friday, along with its 23 crew members, with Iran claiming it ordered the seizure over allegations that it failed to respond to distress call and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

Cobra, the British government’s emergency response committee, discussed the seizure at length and a statement will be made by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to MPs in the House of Commons later on Monday regarding the measures Britain will take in response.

Theresa May has hosted a Cobra meeting to respond to the seizure of a British-flagged tanker by Iran. Pic: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Cabinet ministers, security, intelligence and military chiefs all advised Mrs May during the meeting on what the UK’s next step should be. Britain summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires on Saturday and urged his country to de-escalate tensions and release the tanker.

The seizure comes amid ratcheting tensions between Iran and the US, following President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark nuclear deal struck by the two nations and other major western nations.

Mr Hunt, who’s set to finish runner-up in the contest to replace Mrs May at 10 Downing Street, said the seizure ‘worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour’.

Mr Hunt also spoke to his French and German counterparts on Sunday who agreed safe passage for vessels through the Strait was a priority for European nations.

A top British representative to the United Nations also rejected Iran’s version of events, accusing Tehran of ‘illegal interference’ and saying there was no evidence of a collision.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, British charge d’affaires Jonathan Allen wrote that the vessel had been in Omani waters with its transponder switched on when it was approached.

It was ‘exercising the lawful right of transit passage in an international strait,’ he wrote.However, Iranian Authorities have said the country's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz was a "legal measure", the spokesman for the Islamic republic's government said on Monday. "Seizing the British tanker was a legal measure by Iran. Iran confronted the ship (to ensure) the region's security," Ali Rabiei told a news conference in Tehran.

"To all the countries that are calling on Iran to release the tanker, we ask them to tell Britain the same thing," Rabiei said, referring to the seizure by the British authorities of an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean on July 4.

Separately, Saudi Arabia released an Iranian tanker on July 21 that Tehran says had been docked in the Jeddah port since early May for "technical reasons."


Sources: Extra / NDTV / AFP

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