Iran Says It Is Ready for Any Scenario, Warns of Escalating U.K. Tension

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The Stena Impero tanker, which was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The Stena Impero tanker, which was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.Credit: \ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Iran's envoy to Britain on Sunday urged the U.K. to contain "domestic political forces" which he said wanted to escalate tension between the two countries amid the capture of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf by Iran. 

"U.K. government should contain those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the U.K. well beyond the issue of ships. This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region," Hamid Baeidinejad tweeted. 

"Iran however is firm and ready for different scenarios." 

Earlier Sunday the head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran in Hormozgan Province told state TV that all 23 crew members of the seized British-flagged Stena Impero tanker were "safe and in good health."

>> Strait of Hormuz: What happens if the world's key oil artery gets blocked?

"All the 23 crew members are aboard the ship are safe and in good health in Bandar Abbas port," said Allahmorad Afifipour. 

Meanwhile, Stena Bulk, the British operator of the tanker seized by Iran, has made a formal request to visit the 23 crew members of Stena Impero and is awaiting a formal response, it said on Sunday.

"I can confirm a formal request for permission to visit the 23 crew members of the Stena Impero has been made to the authorities at the Port of Bandar Abbas," Stena Bulk President and CEO Erik Hanell said in a statement.

"The request has been acknowledged, but we await a formal response. In the meantime, we will continue to cooperate and liaise with all appropriate authorities." 

Britain has denounced Iran's seizure of the oil tanker in the Gulf on Friday as a "hostile act," rejecting Tehran's explanation that it had seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident. 

The crew are from India, Latvia, the Philippines and Russia. 

Also Snday, Oman urged Iran to let the tanker depart, calling on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve differences diplomatically, state broadcaster Oman TV News said. 

"The Sultanate [of Oman] calls for not exposing this region to risks impacting freedom of navigation," Oman TV said on Twitter. 

Friday's action by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the global oil trade's most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation in three months of confrontation that took Iran and the United States to the brink of war.

It came two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar accused of violating sanctions on Syria, an action that prompted numerous Iranian threats to retaliate.

Iran's Fars news agency said the Guards had taken control of the Stena Impero on Friday after it collided with an Iranian fishing boat whose distress call it ignored.

The vessel, carrying no cargo, was taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It would remain there with its 23 crew -- 18 of them Indians -- while the accident was investigated, Iranian news agencies quoted the head of Ports and Maritime Organization in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour, as saying.

Operator Stena Bulk said on Friday the tanker had been "in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations," but could not be contacted. On Saturday it said it was preparing a request to visit the crew.

The vessel had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait.

The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran rejects the allegations. Washington also said it had this week downed an Iranian drone near where the Stena Impero was seized.

The United States is sending military personnel and resources to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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