LONDON/DUBAI: Diplomatic tension between the United Kingdom, Iran has increased further after both the countries summoned each other’s envoys to lodge protest of oil tanker attack a few days ago.
On Monday, Britain summoned Iran’s ambassador to London in response to what it called the unlawful attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week, a government statement read.
“Iran must immediately cease actions that risk international peace and security,” it added, saying that “vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law.”
Iran’s foreign ministry also summoned the British charge d’affaires to protest remarks made by the UK’s foreign secretary, IRNA reported.
He was told that these hasty, contradictory, and baseless remarks are rejected and strongly condemned,” IRNA said.
Earlier, Iran said it will respond promptly to any threat against its security, a foreign ministry spokesman said, as the United States, Israel and Britain blamed Tehran for an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has no hesitation in protecting its security and national interests and will respond promptly and strongly to any possible adventure,” state television quoted Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying.
It said Khatibzadeh “strongly regretted the baseless accusations made by the British Foreign Secretary against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which were repeated by the US Secretary of State in the same context and contained contradictory, false and provocative accusations.”
A British security guard and a Romanian crew member were killed in what the US, Britain and the vessel’s operator Zodiac Maritime said appeared to be a drone strike.
Analysts said the attack bore all the hallmarks of tit-for-tat exchanges in the “shadow war” between Israel and Iran, in which vessels linked to each nation have been targeted in waters around the Gulf.
Israel blamed Iran for the attack, accusations rejected by Tehran, with Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying Sunday that Israel “must stop such baseless accusations.”
The US and Britain on Sunday also then blamed Iran for the attack, with Washington vowing an “appropriate response.”