Iran warns UK against escalating tension over ship

An image released by the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), which is partially funded by the country's Government, claims to show the seized British tanker Stena Impero anchored in southern Iran. [AFP]

Iran's ambassador to Britain has warned against escalating tension as a UK official failed to rule out sanctions in response to Tehran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.

Britain has called Iran's capture of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday a "hostile act". Britain needs to contain "those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the UK well beyond the issue of ships," Iran's envoy to Britain Hamid Baeidinejad said on Twitter.

"This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region," he said, adding that Iran "is firm and ready for different scenarios."

Britain's junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood did not rule out the possibility of targeting Tehran with sanctions.

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"Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure that we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture," Ellwood told Sky News. Asked about the possibility of sanctions, he said: "We are going to be looking at a series of options ...We will be speaking with our colleagues, our international allies, to see what can actually be done."

Tehran's seizure of the Stena Impero followed the July 4 capture by Royal Marines of the Grace 1 tanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar.

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