Iran's Ayatollah vows retaliation over UK seizure of oil tanker in Gibraltar

Ministry of Defence announces deployment of two more ships to the Gulf as part of operation protecting shipping

Iran's supreme leader warns UK over tanker seizure

Iran’s supreme leader has vowed to retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian tanker by Royal Marines in Gibraltar.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the seizure as “piracy” and said: “God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evil without a response.”

His threat came as the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of two further Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels to the Persian Gulf, where tensions are high over Iranian efforts to disrupt merchant shipping.

The US was reported to have suspicions that a UAE-based oil tanker may have been seized by Iran after it went out of contact on Saturday evening.

Tracking data from the MT Riah last showed it in the Strait of Hormuz heading for Iranian waters.

Royal Navy warship HMS Montrose was last week forced to drive off gunboats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as they attempted to impede the progress of a BP oil tanker through the strait.

The incident came days after the seizure of the Grace 1 in Gibraltar amid suspicions it was being used to breach international sanctions against Syria.

HMS Montrose

A second warship, the destroyer HMS Duncan, has since been sent to the Gulf to ensure continuous protection for UK shipping when the Montrose is pulled out in a few weeks’ time.

The MoD on Tuesday announced a further Type 23 frigate, HMS Kent will deploy later in the year to replace the Duncan when it reaches the end of its mission.

And the tanker RFA Wave Knight will be sent to the region in August to perform duties delivering food, fuel, water and other essential supplies to Royal Navy and allied ships.

The MoD stressed that the new deployments were a “routine” part of the ongoing Operation Kipion and not a response to the recent escalation of tensions in the Gulf.

Since 1980, UK ships have maintained a year-round presence in the Gulf to ensure the safe flow of trade and counter narcotics and piracy. Around 1,200 personnel are currently committed to the operation.

In response to the Ayatollah’s comments Downing Street called for calm from Tehran.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “We have been consistent: escalation in the Gulf is not in anyone’s interests.

”We have repeatedly stressed that to the Iranians.“

Royal Marines assist in the seizure of the Grace 1 (MOD/AFP/Getty

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has offered to facilitate the release of Grace 1 in return for guarantees from Tehran that it would not breach sanctions on Bashar Assad’s regime.

US president Donald Trump told a meeting of his cabinet in the White House that a lot of progress had been made with Iran and he was not looking for regime change in Tehran.

Mr Trump gave no details about the progress, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed the meeting Iran had said it was prepared to negotiate about its missile programme.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in