Britain sending destroyer to Gulf amid Iranian threats
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Friday warned the British government that it is playing a “dangerous game” that “has consequences” by refusing to release an Iranian tanker that was recently seized in Gibraltar by UK Marines. According to an Iranian spokesman, “the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid,” and “the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest.” The UK claims the vessel was seized because it was transporting crude oil to Syria despite international sanctions prohibiting sales of oil to that country.
On Thursday, the UK said that a BP oil tanker sailing under the Isle of Man flag was almost denied passage through the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman by thee Iranian vessels. While Iran denied the report, the British Ministry of Defense state on Friday announced that is sending an additional destroyer to the Persian Gulf, to “ensure that the UK alongside international partners can continue to support freedom of navigation for vessels transiting through this vital shipping lane.”
Tensions between Iran and the West have surged in recent weeks. Iran recently violated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by exceeding the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to store, and by starting to enrich uranium at higher levels than allowed under the agreement. The Iranian regime has said that it is violating the Iran deal as a response to US sanctions, and has urged the UK and other European signatories to take urgent steps to significantly reduce the impact of these sanctions.