The British government is under strong pressure from lawmakers to act decisively in the sharply escalating diplomatic quarrel between the two countries, but there’s growing domestic criticism in the House of Commons about the lack of naval protection for British tankers in the Strait.
HMS Montrose was an hour away from the tanker as it was being swarmed by agile, high-speed Iranian small boats and a helicopter.
Later the British officer can be heard demanding from the Iranians in a dueling conversation to “please confirm that you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena.”
The British-registered ship’s crew is made up of Indian, Latvian, Filipino and Russian members.
As reports emerged in London of likely British retaliation, the Iranian ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, took to Twitter to warn the British not to escalate the quarrel.
UK government should contain those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the UK well beyond the issue of ships. This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region. Iran however is firm and ready for different scenarios.
— Hamid Baeidinejad (@baeidinejad)
Iranian officials appeared to be trying Sunday to exploit divisions between the EU and Britain over the Gibraltar incident. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, again reiterated Tehran’s contention that the U.S. had pushed Britain into a confrontation with Iran, blaming mainly U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.
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Johnson was strongly criticized for his handling when foreign secretary of the Iranian imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman and media worker for Reuters, who Iran detained, accusing her of spying. Her family say Johnson worsened her plight by misspeaking by saying she was in Iran working as a journalist, when in fact she was in the country to visit family.