Diplomatic tensions between Iran and the United Kingdom have taken a drastic turn since the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) captured the British-flagged tanker in the Gulf. The Stena Impero, carrying 23 personnel was traveling north towards Iran when its journey was hindered. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, has hinted Iran to face serious consequences if the tanker is not released anytime soon. Moreover, the British authorities have cited Iran’s action as a “clear challenge to international freedom of navigation.”

While diplomatic maneuvers are being implemented by the British with the Iranian authorities, the result has not been in the former’s favor. According to Foreign Secretary Hunt, “Our ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners.”

According to the IRGC, three reasons resulted in the capturing of the Stena Impero. First, it did shut down its Global Positioning System (GPS); second, it was going through the exit of the Strait of Hormuz instead from the entrance and third, it ignored all navigational warnings. Now that the United States has become a part of in solving this maritime issue, Iran’s stance may become weaker.

The US has demanded Iran to release the vessel at the earliest. The US State Department said, “The United States strongly condemns the IRGC Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz.” Furthermore, the US military commander of this region has said that the US would take aggressive action to ensure the vessel’s passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Several reports have surfaced from both sides.





The US said that the IRGC threatened the ship after the US Navy ship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait. On the other hand, the IRGC said that the tanker was smuggling fuel.

Tehran, however, has also rejected all accusations made by the US blaming Iran fora series of attacks on various vessels going through the Strait of Hormuz. A statement by the IRGC says that the incident of capturing the the Stena Impero took place at the south of Iran’s Larak Island, in the northern part of the Strait of Hormuz. This narrow waterway in the Persian Gulf is an imperative waterway used for maritime petroleum traffic.



In the case of Stena Impero, the Iran-UK relations will become combustible if the situation is not taken care of with dialogue or with possible negotiation. Now with the involvement of the US, Iran should not consider moving forward with its rogue activities but comply with international standards and the demands of the UK and the US to steadily resolve this crisis

Over the recent past decade, the United States has imposed several sanctions on Iran in the latter’s quest to become a nuclear state. These sanctions have also kept Iran at bay from global oil markets hindering in flourishing its trade and economy.Now with the issue of Stena Impero gaining momentum and grave consequences gawking at Iran, both the US and the UK willconsider imposing new sanctions on Iran if the vessel is not released.

A gradual de-escalation of the crisis must be initiated at the earliest.

Bringing the issues and concerns to the table is perhaps the best option. Military and maritime authorities representing the governments of Iran,the US and UK must converge to discuss over possible solutions.

Moreover, countries that use the Strait of Hormuz for trade purposes must sit together to jot down policies to be followed by all vessels so that such incidents do not occur in the future. Marine General, Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that the United States is anticipating its allies to create a military alliance to protect strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. The basin countries of the Strait of Hormuz, Oman, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, must be taken into confidence before such a maritime strategy is devised and implemented.

There are reports of another tanker, Mesdar, a Liberian-flagged but British operated vessel that made a sudden change in its route and turned towards the Ras Tanura, the port of Saudi Arabia. Such incidents of seizing of vessels do escalate diplomatic and political tensions between the country that seizes the tanker and the country operating it. In the case of Stena Impero, the Iran-UK relations will become combustible if the situation is not taken care of with dialogue or with possible negotiation.

Now with the involvement of the US, Iran should not consider moving forward with its rogue activities but comply with international standards and the demands of the UK and the US to steadily resolve this crisis.

The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist