A British warship vainly tried to stop Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week, reveals an intercepted radio communications.
The new revelation is fueling a wave of counter-accusation in London on Sunday over who was to blame for the incident last week. Despite sending a warship, British frigate HMS Montrose, to the Persian Gulf to protect British shipping, Britain failed to overcome the threat from Iran army. In the recording, an Iranian vessel is heard telling the British warship HMS Montrose that it wants to inspect the Stena Impero for security reasons. Soon after, the Iran army seized the British oil tanker.
The controversial recordings were posted on its website by the shipping consultancy Dryad Global. The voice recordings proved beyond doubt that after the tussle, British warship yielded before the command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Neither Britain nor Iran challenged the authenticity of the recordings until now. Iran says it detained the Stena Impero for unspecified "violations" of maritime law. A second British-linked tanker, the MV Mesdar, was also boarded by armed guards but was released. Tehran said the Stena Impero was "violating international maritime rules".
A former head of the Royal Navy said the tanker should have been better protected before it was intercepted on Friday. In London, British Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood pushed the criticism aside, saying the priority now must be to "de-escalate tensions" with Tehran. The UK's foreign secretary has urged Iran to reverse the tanker's "illegal" seizure.
A fifth of the world's oil passes through the narrow, crowded Hormuz strait. Many countries, including China, rely on the route for a far greater percentage of their energy needs. After the conflict with US, Iran made it clear that it would not allow western countries to use Hormuz strait for shipping.