LONDON: Iranian forces threatened a British warship’s crew against putting their “life in danger” during the seizure of a tanker this month, in a new recording of the incident.
The audio and video footage was released Monday by Iran, as a second UK warship arrived in the Arabian Gulf to protect shipping.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the British-flagged tanker “Stena Impero” on July 19.
UPDATE: Video and audio broadcast by Iran of the capture of the #StenaImpero tanker shows an Iranian officer threatening the British warship #HMSMontrose "Don't put your life in danger" https://t.co/vFeY5tUNz7 pic.twitter.com/3ez42HXOYz
— Arab News (@arabnews) July 29, 2019
In the audio a British Navy officer can be heard saying it is in international waters escorting a merchant vessel after the Iranians warn them away from the tanker.
“British warship Foxtrot 236, this is Sepah navy patrol boat: you are required not to interfere in this issue,” an Iranian officer can be heard saying in the recording aired on state TV.
An officer on board the warship responds: “This is British warship Foxtrot 236: I am in vicinity of an internationally recognised strait with a merchant vessel in my vicinity conducting transit passage.”
The Iranian officer replies: “British warship Foxtrot 236, this is Sepah navy patrol boat: don't put your life in danger.”
Iranian state television also released recordings of another incident on July 10.
“This is British warship Foxtrot 236, go ahead,” a British naval officer can be heard saying.
His Iranian counterpart responds by saying: “British warship Foxtrot 236, this is Sepah navy warship... your tanker British Heritage under my control. You are ordered do not to interference in my operation.”
Britain said on July 11 that three Iranian vessels attempted to “impede the passage” of the “British Heritage” commercial oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
On Monday, the UK’s defense ministry said the destroyer HMS Duncan had arrived in the Gulf to join the frigate HMS Montrose.
The Montrose is due to undergo maintenance in nearby Bahrain in late August. It will be replaced by another frigate, HMS Kent, later this year.
Britain has said it wants to establish a European-led maritime protection force in the Gulf to protect vulnerable shipping, while emphasising it is not seeking a confrontation with Iran.
.@HMSDuncan has arrived in the Gulf, where she will support the safe passage of British-flagged ships along with @HMS_MONTROSE, which has already accompanied 35 merchant vessels. Read more: https://t.co/6kHvZ1Jw2A pic.twitter.com/9nj8tMY3Ut
— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) July 28, 2019
It has asked UK-flagged ships to give it notice when they plan to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, with HMS Montrose already having accompanied 35 merchant vessels during 20 separate transits, according to the Royal Navy.
“I’m pleased that HMS Duncan will continue HMS Montrose’s fine work in helping to secure this essential route,” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement on Sunday.
“While we continue to push for a diplomatic resolution that will make this possible again without military accompaniment, the Royal Navy will continue to provide a safeguard for UK vessels until this is the reality.”
Tensions have been escalating in the region for weeks, with US President Donald Trump last month calling off at the last minute an air strike on Iran over its downing of a US spy drone.
Tehran has suggested the July 19 seizing of the tanker was in retaliation for UK Royal Marines helping Gibraltar authorities detain an Iranian tanker in the Mediterranean Sea two weeks earlier.
Britain said it had acted then because Iran was trying to deliver oil to Syria in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.