LONDON – The UK has introduced ahead plans to ship a second warship to the Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran. HMS Duncan is at the moment within the Mediterranean and is predicted to affix HMS Montrose within the area subsequent week.
It comes after the UK authorities stated Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker within the Gulf on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Iran has reiterated requires the UK to launch an Iranian-owned oil tanker that was detained by Royal Marines in Gibraltar final week.
An Iranian official, talking to state information company IRNA, warned the UK to not get entangled in “this harmful recreation”.
On Tuesday, the UK raised the risk to British transport in Iranian waters within the Gulf to the very best stage – the place the danger of assault is essential.
The next day, boats believed to belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) approached the British Heritage tanker and tried to convey it to a halt because it was transferring out of the Gulf into the Strait of Hormuz. HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the BP-owned tanker, was pressured to maneuver between the three boats and the ship, a Ministry of Defence spokesman stated. Iran denied any tried seizure. HMS Duncan, a kind 45 Destroyer, will function alongside HMS Montrose within the Gulf for a brief interval, earlier than HMS Montrose goes again to Bahrain for routine upkeep.
A authorities spokeswoman stated: “As a part of our long-standing presence within the Gulf, HMS Duncan is deploying to the area to make sure we keep a steady maritime safety presence whereas HMS Montrose comes off job for pre-planned upkeep and crew changeover.
“This can be sure that the UK, alongside worldwide companions, can proceed to help freedom of navigation for vessels transiting by this very important transport lane.”
Overseas Secretary and Tory management candidate Jeremy Hunt – who earlier stated occasions within the Gulf confirmed the Royal Navy wants extra warships – instructed the BBC the UK wished to “de-escalate the scenario” however had “a accountability to guard British transport”.
British ministers and officers have been stressing they don’t need tensions with Iran to “escalate”. The danger of sending a second warship to the area is that it’ll ship the flawed sign. How will Iran view it apart from an escalation?
The truth although is there have been already plans to ship Duncan to affix the frigate HMS Montrose already primarily based within the area.
Montrose has been working onerous and is because of bear routine upkeep. Her crew who’ve been working at a heightened tempo in latest weeks can even want a break. Each warships will probably be working collectively within the area for a brief interval. However within the present local weather ministers clearly felt it was too dangerous to permit a spot in offering a navy escort to British service provider transport within the area. Final week, Royal Marines helped the authorities in Gibraltar – a British abroad territory – seize the Iranian-owned tanker Grace 1 amid suspicions it was carrying oil to Syria, in breach of EU sanctions.
Iran instructed the UK seized the tanker “on the behest of” the US authorities. It additionally denied the tanker was certain for Syria and threatened to grab a British oil tanker in retaliation.
Tensions escalated between the UK and Iran after Britain stated the Iranian regime was “virtually actually” liable for assaults on two oil tankers in June.
The continued imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe can be a long-standing bone of competition between the 2 nations.
The UK continues to press Iran to launch the British-Iranian mom who was jailed for 5 years in 2016 after being convicted for spying, which she denies.
Relations between Iran and the US are additionally underneath duress, after the Trump administration pulled out of a world settlement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and strengthened punishing sanctions in opposition to Iran.
The US blames Iran for assaults on six oil tankers in Could and June.