Iran crisis: Tehran's Revolutionary Guard hoist flag over seized oil tanker in taunt to UK

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Steno Impero was the British flagged ship taken by Revolutionary Guards special forces as the diplomatic crisis between the nations continues to roll on. Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has claimed HMS Montrose, a warship sent by the Royal Navy to protect British shipping, was one hour away from the vessel when the incident occurred. The Department of Transport have claimed the oil tankers was in Omani waters when it was seized before being re-routed by Revolutionary Guard special forces and produced naval charts to support this claim.

The British Government described the incident, a response to the seizure of Panamanian flagged Grace I in Gibraltar, as “illegal” and wrote in a letter sent to the UN Security Council: “Current tensions are extremely concerning, and our priority is to de-escalate. We do not seek confrontation with Iran. But it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to threaten shipping going about its legitimate business through internationally recognised transit corridors.”

Britain is one of the permanent members of the security council alongside another fierce critic of Tehran in the US.

However, two Iranian allies, China and Russia join France as the other permanent members.

The current non-permanent members, whose terms end either this years or next year are Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and South Africa.

READ MORE: Tanker crisis shows folly of defence cuts – EXPRESS COMMENT

Saudi Arabia has long been in a tense relationship with Tehran and Adel Ajuebeir, the Foreign Affairs Minister in Riyadh said: “Iran must realise that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable. The world community must take actions to deter such behaviour.”

Tobias Ellwood, the current Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans and former Foreign Office minister responsible for the Middle East, Africa and Counter-Terrorism, has warned the Royal Navy is not big enough to deal with the threat on British shipping from Iran.

This intervention came after Theresa May turned down an offer from US President Donald Trump for American protection of British shipping.

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, Iain Duncan-Smith, who was previously Shadow Defence Secretary in William Hague’s Shadow Cabinet, accused Mrs May of making a “major miscalculation”.

The senior Tory claimed the UK had been “offered whatever assistance is necessary to protect British ships” but did not accept to avoid being seen as lining up with the administration whose withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal kickstarted the latest round of tensions.

Chancellor Philip Hammond, who has confirmed he will resign to avoid backing a no deal Brexit, insisted the Government had not taken its “eye off the ball” by not providing a naval escort for the cheap.

The Government had not organised a protocol for UK vessels to sail in the region at fixed times when the Royal Navy could protect them like they did for ships under threat from pirates in Somalia.

The Sun reported that in April, Britain withdrew two wildcat helicopters that could have spotted the seizure was in danger of happening, saying they were “no longer needed”.

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