Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has released an audio recording in which one of its officers successfully tells a British warship to back off as its naval patrol seizes a UK-flagged oil tanker in the strait of Hormuz on 19 July.

The clip is of a radio exchange in which a guards patrol boat officer tells HMS Montrose to back off while the Iranians seized the Stena Impero vessel passing through the strategic waterway.

The audio clip begins with an officer directly addressing the Montrose using a call sign: “British warship Foxtrot 236, this is Sepah navy patrol boat: you are required not to interfere in this issue.”

A British accented voice responds: “This is British warship Foxtrot 236: I am in vicinity of an internationally recognised strait with a merchant vessel in my vicinity conducting transit passage.”

The Iranian officer tells the Montrose that the situation could escalate if it tried to intervene: “British warship Foxtrot 236, this is Sepah navy patrol boat: don’t put your life in danger.”

At the time, the frigate was too far away to defend the tanker – 60 minutes away, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The release of the recording is an attempt to demonstrate Iran’s naval capabilities in the region a day after HMS Duncan, a navy destroyer, arrived in the gulf to support the Montrose in defence of tankers passing through the strategic waterway.

Iran seized the Stena Impero after the UK seizure of the Iranian-owned Grace 1 off Gibraltar earlier this month. The UK said it had acted to halt a vessel believed to be carrying oil to Syria in defiance of EU sanctions aimed at the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Last week Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, indicated that his country might be willing to contemplate a tanker swap – but the idea was ruled out by Britain’s new foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, in an interview on Monday morning.

Raab said the two seizures were not equivalent. “Grace 1 was intercepted because it was in breach of sanctions and heading with oil for Syria and that was the intelligence,” he said.

“We were absolutely lawful entitled to detain it in the way we did. The Stena Impero was unlawfully detained. This is not about some kind of barter. This is about the international law and the rules of the international legal system being upheld and that is what we will insist on.”

Source » theguardian