Iranian ships failed to hijack a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf on Thursday. But Middle East Analyst Simon Mabon warned Iran could take it one step further and shut down the strait using one of two strategies.
The easier and more obvious option is with the use of these small armed boats
Speaking to DW News, Mr Mabon explained: “The revolutionary guard have denied involvement as far as I am aware.
“At present, of course that doesn’t mean to say that they are not involved. It is just that posturing I guess.
“But with regards to the closing the strait of Hormuz, we have heard over the past number of years that Iran has threatened to close the strait on a number of occasions.
“There are several ways of doing that, of course. One of the ways is mining the strait by dropping deported mines to prevent ships from accessing.
“But perhaps the easier and more obvious option is with the use of these small armed boats that are able to then commandeer vessels, such as what we saw today.
“It seems like the more flexible and the more strategic option that gives Iran the ability to get material and good out of the strait without having to circumnavigate these mines.
“So I think this is probably the more obvious strategy that Iran could use if it wanted to disrupt the trade that flows through this busy waterway.”
The British Royal Navy frigate, HMS Montrose, was forced to intervene and escort a British oil tanker after Iranian ships attempted to hijack the tanker.
According to Sky News the ships, thought to be Iranian, attempted to seize the British tanker as it skirted close to Iranian waters.
The ship was ordered to change course before the alleged Revolutionary Guard ships tried to seize the tanker.
When the Iranian boats demanded that it changed its course, the frigate trained its guns on them and issued a warning, according to reports.
Upon issuing the warning, the Iranian ships retreated.
One of the officials said: “The Royal Navy HMS Montrose, which was also there, pointed its guns at the boats and warned them over radio, at which point they dispersed.”
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Another official said: “It was harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage.”
The Navy frigate was escorting the British Heritage tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
A US surveillance aircraft was also overhead and recorded the event.
A British Government source said on Thursday: “HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” a British government representative said in a statement.
“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
The comments come after the Royal Marines seized an Iranian ship off the coast of Gibraltar last week.
Following the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, Mohsen Rezaei, who is presently the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council threatened the UK.
He said: “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker.”
The Iranian supertanker was seized over claims it was breaking sanctions taking oil to Syria.
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