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Iran calls on Britain to immediately release seized oil tanker

The British Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose comes along side the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2005. (United States Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Derek Allen/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran has again called on Britain to immediately release an oil tanker that the British Royal Navy seized last week, as London called for calm amid rising tensions.

“This is a dangerous game and has consequences…the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid…the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said on July 12, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Musavi also said that “foreign powers should leave the region because Iran and other regional actors are capable of ensuring the regional security.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain did not want a conflict with Iran, adding that “we are being clear to Iran that we are not seeking to escalate this situation.”

The remarks came almost a week after British Royal Marines boarded an Iranian tanker, the Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar and seized it over suspicions it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Tehran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released, with an IRGC commander threatening on July 5 to seize a British ship in retaliation.

Britain said on July 11 that three Iranian vessels “attempted to impede” a British oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz which connects the Persian Gulf with the Arabian Sea, but backed off when confronted by a British warship.

Iran denied trying to stop the British tanker.