Iran warns UK not to play a ‘dangerous game’ as tensions rise after seizure of oil tanker

12-07-2019 15:07

British Heritage oil tanker and HMS Montrose

Iran has warned the UK as tensions in the Gulf escalate (Picture: AP; Shutterstock; Royal Navy)

Iran has warned the UK not to enter a ‘dangerous game’ as it plans to send another Royal Navy warship to the Gulf amid escalating tensions.

Tehran has threatened to disrupt the shipping of oil around the region after the failed attempt on Wednesday to seize a British tanker.

HMS Montrose thwarted the bid and the vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard retreated from the waters around the Strait of Hormuz.

Downing Street is said to be concerned and there are now plans to dispatch Type 45 Destroyer HMS Duncan to the region to relieve Montrose.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 06, 2019 A ship approaches supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019. Gibraltar police have arrested the Indian captain and chief officer of a seized Iranian tanker suspected of breaching EU sanctions by shipping oil to Syria, a spokesman for the Royal Gibraltar Police said on July 11, 2019. - Iran demanded on July 5, 2019 that Britain immediately release an oil tanker it has detained in Gibraltar, accusing it of acting at the bidding of the United States. Authorities in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip at the western entrance to the Mediterranean, said they suspected the tanker was carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images

The Grace 1 tanker was seized by officials in Gibraltar and four of its crew members arrested (Picture: AFP)

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on July 3, 2019 shows President Hassan Rouhani chairing a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran. - Rouhani said Iran will exceed the uranium enrichment limit it agreed in a 2015 deal with major powers, raising it "as much as necessary". "On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 percent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 percent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need," Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting today. (Photo by HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===HO/AFP/Getty Images

Hassan Rouhini warned the UK there would be consequences after Gibraltar seized a vessel suspected of carrying oil to Syria (Picture: Reuters)

At Friday prayers, cleric Kazem Sedighi told worshippers in Tehran that Britain will soon be ‘slapped in the face’ for the capture of an Iranian oil tanker last week.

The Grace 1, was stopped in an operation involving the Royal Marines in Gibraltar.

The vessel was suspected of violating EU sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian oil to war-ravaged Syria.

Gibraltar police have arrested four crew members, all Indian nationals, from the ship and say tests confirm it had 2.1million barrels of light crude oil on board.

Iran wants the tanker back and condemned its seizure as an ‘illegal interception.’

President Hassan Rouhini has also warned Britain of ‘consequences’ over what happened in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory.

epa07695828 A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) showing British Royal Marines from 42 Commando who took part in the seizure the Panama registered Grace 1, Iranian oil tanker in the Gibraltar Strait, 04 July 2019. The MOD report that they were followed on board shortly by Gibraltar police and the ship was handed over to them to continue with further checks and procedures. The operation went off without a hitch and commandos were able to board the vessel quickly. The seizure was made because of evidence it was heading to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. EPA/RAF/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

British Royal Marines from 42 Commando who took part in the seizure the Panama registered Grace 1 (Picture: Ministry of Defence)

Map of Middle East

The waters around Yemen and Iran are strategically important (Picture: DailyMail.com)

HMS Duncan now looks to be heading out to the region earlier than planned, sources have said.

The Government officially confirmed that Duncan, currently in the Black Sea, will relieve Montrose in the Gulf so the Type 23 frigate can undergo planned maintenance and crew changes.

Duncan, a Type 45 air defence destroyer, is considered to be one of the most advanced warships in the world, according to the Royal Navy.

The force also has another four vessels in the area.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain wants to ‘de-escalate’ the ‘serious’ situation.

The Tory leadership contender added that sending HMS Duncan was ‘about our responsibility to do everything we can to protect British shipping’.

epa07710925 Jeremy Hunt speaks at a Conservative Party leadership campaign hustings at the Kent Showgrounds in Maidstone, Britain 11 July 2019. The two contenders, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are competing for votes from party members, with the winner replacing Prime Minister Theresa May as party leader and Prime Minister of Britain's ruling Conservative Party. EPA/NEIL HALL

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt said Britain wants to ‘de-escalate’ the ‘serious’ situation (Picture: EPA)

HMS Montrose (Picture: MOD) HMS Montrose, a Type 23 Frigate, performed a series of tight turns, during Marstrike 05. The long-planned series of exercises, entitled Marstrike 05, were designed to demonstrate Britain's ability to deploy, operate and sustain a maritime strike force and to reinforce the Government's commitment to the stability and security of the Mediterranean and Gulf regions. Marstrike 05s main objective was to develop the operational capability of the participating units - in particular HMS Invincible strike role conducted with her tailored air group. Major focus of the deployment was Exercise Magic Carpet, a joint and combined exercise based in Oman with participation by the Omani, US and French forces. This image was submitted as part of the Peregrine 06 Photographic Competition.

HMS Montrose, a Type 23 Frigate, Royal Navy had to come to the aid of a BP oil tanker that was threatened by Iranian boats (Picture: Royal Navy)

Iran has denied it attempted to ‘impede’ the passage of the British Heritage tanker.

It has also denied it was sending oil to Syria and has demanded the release of the Grace 1 tanker.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: ‘The documents and evidence and the contradictory remarks made by the British all indicate that London’s allegation, legally speaking, is not that significant and noteworthy unless they would want to enter into a dangerous game under the influence of the Americans with no end in sight.’

Tensions started to build between Iran and the west after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear programme.

He then imposed crippling economic sanctions and ordered all countries to halt the purchase of Iranian oil.

That has now effectively starved the Iranian economy of the main source of revenue that Tehran uses to import food for its 81 million population.

That has left Iran with no benefits to show for agreeing to the nuclear arrangement, which is now under threat.

The British Heritage tanker leaves the port of Rotterdam on 6 May 2018.; Shutterstock ID 1103123435; Purchase Order: -

The British Heritage tanker was surrounded by three armed vessels from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (Picture: Shutterstock)

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been threatening more sanctions against Iran after it pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal (Picture: AP)

The US is threatening more sanctions, which were first imposed because of questions about how the Revolutionary Guard is funded.

The US is now pushing its allies, including the US, to step up security in the Strait of Hormuz and safeguard the strategic waters off Iran and Yemen.

A Downing Street spokeswoman spoke of the Government’s concerns in the region about Iran.

She said: ‘We are concerned about the threats that they are making to disrupt shipping in the area and we have been urging them to de-escalate the situation in the region.

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