New audio shows Iran threatening British warship during Stena Impero seizure

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The video and audio released by Iran warned the British warship not to put the crew's "lives in danger". (Screenshot)
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The video and audio released by Iran warned the British warship not to put the crew's "lives in danger". (Screenshot) (Screenshot)
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Royal Navy destroyer HMS Duncan passes through the Suez Canal into the Gulf to support the safe passage of British-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz in this handout photo released July 28, 2019. (Royal Navy/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 29 July 2019

New audio shows Iran threatening British warship during Stena Impero seizure

  • UK destroyer HMS Duncan arrives in Gulf to help accompany vessels through the Strait of Hormuz
  • The destroyer joins frigate HMS Montrose, which appears in new video footage of the tanker capture released by Iran

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.

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.

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.


Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

Updated 25 January 2020

Pope backs Iraqi call for its sovereignty to be respected

  • President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats
  • The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis met Iraq’s president on Saturday and the two agreed that the country’s sovereignty must be respected, following attacks on Iraqi territory this month by the United States and Iran.
President Barham Salih held private talks for about 30 minutes with the pope and then met the Vatican’s two top diplomats, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, its foreign minister.
The talks “focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favor of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” a Vatican statement said.
On Jan. 8, Iranian forces fired missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing US troops in retaliation for Washington’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike a Baghdad airport on Jan. 3.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution ordering the 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq to leave the country.
Soon after the Iranian attack, Francis urged the United States and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint” to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope discussed the Middle East with US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday.
The recent tensions in Iraq could make it impossible for Francis to visit the country, which he has said he would like to do this year.
The Vatican said the pope and Salih also discussed “the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
The Christian presence in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East has been depleted by wars and conflicts.
Iraq’s several hundred thousand Christians suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered.