Iran seeking US-UK rift, releases footage of crew on board Stena Impero

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An Iranian Revolutionary Guard member walks onboard of Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, in Bandar Abbas port. (Reuters/Via Fars)
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A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard sails next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, on July 21, 2019. (Iran, Mizan News Agency/WANA Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 24 July 2019

Iran seeking US-UK rift, releases footage of crew on board Stena Impero

  • Saudi minister Al-Jubeir condemns ‘violation of international law’ as Britain considers sanctions
  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of trying to enlist British support for the US campaign against Iran

JEDDAH: Iran tried on Sunday to drive a diplomatic wedge between the US and the UK amid escalating tension after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces seized a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf and forced it into an Iranian port.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of trying to enlist British support for the US campaign against Iran. “Having failed to lure Donald Trump into the War of the Century, he is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire,” Zarif said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said any attack on the freedom of navigation was a violation of international law. “Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable. The world community must take action to deter such behavior,” he said.

Iran must realize that its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable.

Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

British ministers said they were considering their options in response to the seizure on Friday of the tanker Stena Impero with 23 crew on board. A statement to Parliament is expected on Monday.

“We are going to be looking at a series of options,” junior Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said. “We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done.”

Analysts said a military response was unlikely, but possible diplomatic and economic measures include freezing Iranian assets. Britain may also push for UN and EU sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, as the US has already done.

However, British defense expert Tim Ripley said the UK had few good options. 

“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” he said.

“If the Americans are going to continue to enforce their embargo, there’s no incentive for the Iranians not to take more tankers. What have they got to lose?” 

Tehran released video of some of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero sitting around a table speaking with one of their captors, alongside fresh images showing Revolutionary Guardsmen on board the Swedish-owned vessel.

Video footage and a photo appear to show cooks preparing meals and crew members being briefed by an Iranian official onboard the Stena Impero.

The regime's foreign minister Mohammad Zarif said on Monday that Iran took measures against the ship to "implement international law," not in retaliation to actions by Britain, and was not seeking conflict.

Meanwhile, Iran thanked Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the return of an Iranian ship docked at Jeddah port since May because of technical problems.

“Iran appreciates efforts by the authorities of Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Oman to secure the safe return of the Happiness 1 oil tanker,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Britain’s May to chair emergency session on seized tanker

British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair an emergency security session to discuss how to respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

The meeting of security ministers and officials on Monday will discuss how to secure shipping in the sensitive region, which is vital to the world’s oil supply.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also expected to brief Parliament on the Friday seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, now in a heavily guarded Iranian port.

(With AP)


Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

Updated 31 min 9 sec ago

Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

  • ahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
  • "How long can it possibly be sustained?”

LONDON: The former crown prince of Iran says the regime is cracking from within under the pressure of a wave of fresh protests.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah, was just 17 when he fled into exile with his family during the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said the demonstrations, which have included chants for the royal family to return, show that the current regime may be coming to an end.

“The cracking from within of the system is getting more and more obvious,” he said. “When you look at the circumstances in Iran today, put yourselves in the shoes of the worst-off — how long can it possibly be sustained?”

The protests intensified in November after an increase in fuel prices. Vast crowds demonstrated in cities across the country before the regime cut the internet and killed hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown.

Large numbers returned to the streets this month, angered by the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet by the Iranian military, and Tehran’s initial insistence that it was an accident.

“The protests are very pervasive, in many sectors of society,” Pahlavi, 59, said in Washington where he lives. “They are all over the country. And a new development we haven’t seen before: the so-called silent middle class, which until now were not taking positions, are beginning to speak out.

“I’m not saying this is a guaranteed collapse. But the ingredients that get us closer to that point seem to be more prevailing these days than ever before.”

Pahlavi said he no longer has any desire to return to the throne, despite once being a rallying point for opposition groups after his father died in 1980.

However, he said he believed there could be a new Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and that his role could be as a go-between for the Iranian diaspora, foreign governments and opposition groups inside Iran.

“To the extent that there is a name recognition, I can utilise that,” he said. “I have no ambition of any kind of role or function or title. I’d like to be an advocate for the people. I don’t let any of this go to my head, I’ve been around too long for that.”

Pahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “as a breakthrough that is positive for the region.”

He also backs the punishing US sanctions introduced when Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

He said he hopes one day to be able to return to his homeland.

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