Iran Revolutionary Guards denied impeding British tanker

Vastavam web: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied on Thursday that they had impeded a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the force’s Sepah news agency said. “There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones,” the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement. Britain said Thursday three Iranian boats had attempted to “impede the passage” of a British oil tanker in Gulf waters, forcing UK warship HMS Montrose to intervene.

The Guards’ statement said that if they were ordered to seize foreign vessels they would do so “immediately, decisively and speedily.” The incident follows the detention of an Iranian oil tanker by Britain on July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar, a tiny British overseas territory on Spain’s southern tip. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Britain on Wednesday of the “consequences” of what he described as “a foolish act”.

“I point out to the British that you initiated insecurity (on the seas) and you shall grasp the consequences of it later on,” Rouhani said in comments to the cabinet broadcast by state TV. On Monday Iran’s defence minister had vowed to respond to Britain’s move. Calling the tanker seizure an act of maritime piracy, Brigadier-General Amir Hatami said it “will not be tolerated by us and will not go without a response.”

The secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, warned that if Britain failed to release the tanker Iran would be forced to take tit-for-tat action. “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, the relevant authorities will be duty-bound to take reciprocal action and seize a British oil tanker,” said council secretary Mohsen Rezai.