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.


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 38 min 2 sec ago

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.