UK calls for broad support to tackle Gulf shipping threats

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrol around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero as it's anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 August 2019

UK calls for broad support to tackle Gulf shipping threats

  • Last month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the strait, the Gulf’s outlet to the open seas,
  • Britain joined a US-led mission to escort merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz at the start of August but Germany and France declined to take part

LONDON: British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab will call for more international support to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz when he meets his French and German counterparts later on Friday for talks about Iran.
Last month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the strait, the Gulf’s outlet to the open seas, in apparent retaliation for Britain’s seizure in Gibraltar of an Iranian ship accused of violating European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
Britain joined a US-led mission to escort merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz at the start of August but Germany and France declined to take part amid fears that it could increase the chance of open conflict with Iran.
“We...need the broadest international support possible to tackle the threats to international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz,” Raab said in a statement before he attends a meeting of European foreign ministers in Helsinki.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a possible separate European maritime defense operation would be discussed in Helsinki, though her foreign minister Heiko Maas previously acknowledged it would be slow to get off the ground.
French defense minister Florence Parly told AFP on Thursday that she would back an EU-led “dissuasive presence.”
Last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said international waterways would be less secure if his country’s oil exports faced complete sanctions.
Raab reiterated Britain’s commitment, alongside Germany and France, to a 2015 nuclear deal that US President Donald Trump pulled out of last year, reimposing sanctions on Iran.
“The nuclear deal is the only deal on the table that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and we will continue working together to encourage Iran to uphold the agreement in full,” Raab said.
The 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers, reached under former US President Barack Obama, aimed to curb Iran’s disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.
Trump said on Monday at a G7 summit in Biarritz, France, that he might be willing to meet Rouhani in the coming weeks to end confrontation over the deal.


Rouhani: Iran will bypass US sanctions or overcome them through talks

Updated 18 min 2 sec ago

Rouhani: Iran will bypass US sanctions or overcome them through talks

  • Tensions have soared between Tehran and Washington since last year
  • The Islamic Republic has rejected negotiating a new deal with the Trump administration

DUBAI: Iran will overcome US sanctions by either bypassing them or through negotiations, and it will not cross its red lines in any talks with arch-adversary Washington, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.
Tensions have soared between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that have crippled its oil-based economy.
The Islamic Republic has rejected negotiating a new deal with the Trump administration, saying talks are only possible if Washington returns to the nuclear pact and lifts sanctions.
“The government is determined to defeat (the enemy) by bypassing America’s sanctions...or through various means including talks, but we will not cross our red lines,” the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Rouhani as saying. In a rare act of cooperation between Tehran and Washington, the United States and Iran each freed a prisoner on Saturday.
Washington said it was hopeful that the prisoner swap would lead to the release of other Americans held in Iran and that it was a sign Tehran was willing to discuss other issues.
Iran released Xiyue Wang, a US citizen who had been held for three years on spying charges, while the United States freed Iranian Massoud Soleimani, who had faced charges of violating US sanctions against Tehran.
Iran said on Monday there were about 20 Iranians jailed in the United States in cases linked to sanctions violations.