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‘These seizures are unacceptable’: Hunt blasts Iran as he confirms TWO British tankers have been raided in the

  • Gulf prompting COBR emergency summit – in major escalation of tensions with Tehran
  • The Stena Impero was seized in the Strait of Hormuz at 4pm BST by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces
  • The British-registered tanker was ordered to turn to the north and was taken into Iranian territorial waters
  • A second vessel, the British-operated Mesdar has also been seized by Iran according to the Foreign Office
  • An emergency COBR meeting is being held this evening to discuss the worsening crisis in the region

By Afp and Darren Boyle for MailOnline, 19 July 2019

Iran has seized two British oil tankers in the Persian Gulf as tensions in the region increase dramatically.

The first vessel, the Stena Impero, was surrounded by heavily-armed Iranian vessels and a helicopter around 4pm and ordered to turn north.

The second vessel, the Mesdar, was ordered by Iran to turn north around 45 minutes later.

Theresa May is chairing an emergency meeting of the COBRA committee at Number 10, which will be attended by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is currently battling with his predecessor Boris Johnson to replace Mrs May as Prime Minister.

The Stena Impero oil tanker has been seized by Iranian authorities while passing through the Strait of Hormuz this evening

The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 16:00 BST and ordered to head north. The British registered vessel switched off its maritime tracker a short time later. A second British vessel, Medsar, abruptly changed course towards Iran around 16.45. Theresa May is expected to hold an emergency Cobra meeting this evening in response to the seizures

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these ‘ultra-fast’ boats in 2010

Mr Hunt said: ‘I will shortly attend a COBR meeting to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels – a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.

‘Their crews comprise a range of nationalities, but we understand there are no British citizens on board either ship.

‘Our ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners.

‘These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.’

Iranian authorities have yet to comment on the Mesdar, but marine tracking data showed it turning dramatically off course and towards the Iranian coast.

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