Iran said Sunday the fate of a British-flagged tanker it is refusing to hand back after seizing it in the Gulf depends on the cooperation of its crew with an investigation.
A senior official also said the entire crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker was in good health.
The vessel was impounded with its 23 crew members aboard at the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, reportedly in Omani waters.
Iran on Saturday released video footage of the UK oil tanker with the Stena Impero’s markings being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend down a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 20, 2019
Iran detained the ship on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat. Its crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.
Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani hit out at the British, saying they “stole and got a response” from the Guards, according to ISNA news agency.
He was referring to the seizure of an Iranian tanker by British authorities in the Mediterranean two weeks ago.
Germany and France urged Iran to release the Stena Impero as the European Union voiced concern. London warned its ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton “is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire”.
Oman, which maintains strong ties with Iran, on Sunday joined calls for it to release the Stena Impero while urging London and Tehran to resolve the dispute.