US NewsEven as Tensions With Iran Rise Over Seized Ship, U.K. Stays ‘Committed’ to Nuclear Deal
UK to send third major warship to Gulf amid Iran tensions
The UK is to send another major warship to the Persian Gulf amid ongoing tensions with Iran. © PA HMS Kent will travel to the Gulf from mid-September Frigate HMS Kent will travel to the region from mid-September to bolster the Royal Navy's presence. The UK has HMS Montrose permanently stationed in the Gulf, but the frigate will soon enter a Royal Navy base in Bahrain for around three or four weeks, in order to refuel and re-stock.
LONDON — Britain took new steps on Monday to distance itself from the Trump administration’s escalating confrontation with Iran, even while pushing for the release of an oil tanker seized by Tehran three days earlier.
Iran denies US destroyed an Iranian drone near Persian Gulf
Iran denies US destroyed an Iranian drone near Persian Gulf
British efforts to bolster maritime security in the Persian Gulf “will not be part of the U.S. maximum pressure policy on Iran,” Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said after an emergency cabinet meeting about the tanker.
Mr. Hunt’s pointed statement was the first indication that a broad disagreement over Iran still persists between the two allies despite the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged tanker on Friday.
Video: Iran's tanker seizure is 'state piracy' (Sky News)
On the American side of the divide, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on Monday that both the British and American disputes with Iran arose from the same essential cause: the fundamental character of the Iranian government.
Trump and Iran may be on the brink of a war that would likely be devastating to both sides
A war with Iran would likely be disastrous and further destabilize a region that's been consumed by conflict for years. Trump almost launched a military strike against Iran in late June but called it off at the last minute. A series of tanker seizures in the Strait of Hormuz could further escalate the already tense situation.. Tensions between the US and Iran have reached historic heights in recent weeks, prompting fears of a military confrontation that could escalate into all-out war. Here's a breakdown of what's going on, how we got here, and what the stakes are.
“This is a bad regime,” Mr. Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.
Iranian officials have said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp seized the tanker, the Stena Impero, for various infractions like polluting, but also as retaliation for the British impounding of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago. Britain said it had detained the ship on suspicion of violating a European Union embargo on the delivery of oil to Syria.
Many analysts and some former British diplomats had wondered if the tanker “tit-for-tat,” as Mr. Hunt called it, would push Britain into closer collaboration with the Trump administration in its own showdown with Iran.
Iran releases video of capture of British-flagged oil tanker
Iran's Revolutionary Guards posted a video online showing speedboats pulling up alongside the Stena Impero tanker, its name clearly visible. Troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelled to its deck from a helicopter, the same tactics used by British Royal Marines to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago.
Last year, President Trump withdrew from a 2015 accord that the United States, Britain and other international powers had reached with Iran to trade relief from economic sanctions for limits on its nuclear program. In May, the administration hit Iran with sweeping new sanctions in an attempt to force it to negotiate a new and more restrictive agreement.
Iran has called the new sanctions “economic warfare,” and since May it has begun calibrated steps to restart its nuclear program, exceeding limits on uranium enrichment imposed by the 2015 deal.
At the same time, Iran has taken steps like the seizure of the tanker that have reminded the international powers of the country’s ability to threaten the flow of shipping out of the Persian Gulf through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. The channel accounts for a fifth of the world’s oil supply, a quarter of the liquefied natural gas, and a half a trillion a dollars in trade every year.
Britain has so far joined France, Germany and the European Union in trying preserve the 2015 deal in defiance of Mr. Trump. Any hope of success would almost certainly be doomed if Britain were to react to the seizure by joining the United States in re-imposing sanctions.
It is 'impossible' for the UK to defend every ship from Iran, the Royal Navy is 'too small' and admirals need more cash, says defence minister Tobias Ellwood amid Iran crisis
Tobias Ellwood denied that the UK had taken its 'eye off the ball' and said the Government was looking at a 'series of options' after Iranian forces seized a UK-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero.
But Mr. Hunt, the foreign secretary, instead reaffirmed the depth of the government’s disagreement with the Trump administration despite Britain’s own rising tensions with Iran over the tankers. “We remain committed to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement,” he said.
In the government’s most substantial response yet to the seizure, Mr. Hunt said that Britain was now dispatching additional warships to the Persian Gulf while working in concert with European allies to better guard commercial traffic.
“If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline,” Mr. Hunt warned. He described the new maritime security effort as “European-led.”
Although the United States has said it intends to lead its own multilateral maritime security operation in the Gulf, Mr. Hunt said only that he would talk to Washington “later this week” about how “to complement this with recent U.S. proposals.”
First picture INSIDE the British tanker captured by Iran: Terrified crew huddles on board vessel after it was seized by gunmen
Members of the Stena Impero's 23-strong crew are seen sitting on the floor of the UK-flagged vessel while an Iranian official speaks to them with what appears to be a pile of shoes nearby (pictured).
Britain is now deploying its Navy “with a heavy heart,” Mr. Hunt said, “because the focus of our diplomacy has been on de-escalating tensions, in the hope that such changes would not be necessary.”
Iran, for its part, released photographs indicating that the 23 crew members of the seized tanker were in good health.
But the broader overtones of the conflict with Washington continued as Iran also announced that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States.
The Iranian announcement, which did not include the names of those arrested or offer any evidence of spying, drew a swift denial from the White House.
“Zero Truth. Just more lies and propaganda,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, calling Iran “a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.”
Iran Is Acting Like the International Villain of Trump’s Prophecy
Any number of relatively mundane scenarios now have the potential to escalate U.S.-Iran tensions—from a fire at a militia base to the seizure of an oil tanker to the signal-jamming of a drone.
The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
Mr. Pompeo, in his interview with Fox News, was equally dismissive. “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying,” he said, casting blame on its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“It is part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Sidestepping the chronology of American actions and Iranian responses, Mr. Pompeo asserted that what Iran is doing “isn’t because of the American sanctions.”
“This is because the theocracy, the leadership in Iran, their revolutionary zeal to conduct terror around the world for now four decades continues,” he said.
In contrast to more conciliatory statements occasionally made by Mr. Trump himself, Mr. Pompeo appeared to leave little room for negotiations with the current Iranian leadership. “I am ultimately convinced,” he said, “that the Iranian people will get the leadership behavior that they so richly deserve.”
Mr. Pompeo also disclaimed any American responsibility for the captured British tanker. “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships,” he said.
In a new conference to announce the arrest of the 17 unnamed spies, an Iranian counterterrorism official said they had been recruited and trained by the C.I.A.
A running battle to root out American spies is a staple of the news media in Iran, and its English-language Press TV recently broadcast a documentary about what it called a successful “mole hunt” for C.I.A. agents.
The Iranian intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, claimed in the documentary that the spy hunt had resulted in the C.I.A. “crumbling like a house of cards,” according to a report by the BBC monitoring service.
Iranian television this year also broadcast a fictional series, titled “Gando,” about the exploits of heroic counterintelligence agents battling a villainous American spy who is undercover as a journalist.
The director and producer have said that the villain is modeled on Jason Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post who spent 18 months in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage, which he and American officials denied.
Mr. Rezaian, in a Twitter post last month, said the resemblance was only superficial. “Besides being fat, bald and wearing glasses,” he wrote, “there is no similarity to me or anything that has happened in my life.”
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Iran Links British Seizure of Oil Tanker to Ailing Nuclear Deal.
Iran for the first time tied the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker to the ailing nuclear deal on Sunday, calling it illegal and a violation of the agreement.
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