Iran has termed the security of the Persian Gulf as its “red line”, while denouncing “baseless accusations” by British government officials against Tehran over recent incidents in the regional waters.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Monday that Tehran has “done its best” to protect the waterway from “insecurities orchestrated by countries like the UK”, while advising the British government “to pay attention to its own responsibilities and duties.”
In response to a question about allegations leveled by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about the recent ship incident in the Sea of Oman, Khatibzadeh emphasized that such “irresponsible statements” against Iran are “not new”.
He said Iran is “concerned about the obvious violation” that the UK did against an Iranian oil tanker in international waters in July 2019, terming security of the Persian Gulf as “red line” for Iran.
British Royal Marines seized a giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar in a dramatic step that drew Tehran’s fury, with the saga ending only after authorities in the disputed island released the vessel about a month later, defying a United States request to retain the seizure.
There has been a dangerous escalation in the region in recent weeks against the backdrop of a suspected drone attack last week that targeted an Israeli-managed tanker, Mercer Street, off the Omani coast.
The regime in Tel Aviv and its Western allies, the UK and the US, accuse Iran of orchestrating the attack. Iran has vehemently rejected the charges as “baseless” and “childish”.
London and Washington, the two key Western allies of the Israeli regime, have fully thrown their weight behind Tel Aviv, calling for an “appropriate response.”
Raab last week said the “unlawful and callous” attack had highly likely been carried out by Iran using one or more drones, adding that London was working with partners on a “concrete response.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the chorus later, saying they were “working with partners” on what he termed an “appropriate response” to the attack.
Khatibzadeh said the Foreign Ministry had summoned the British and Romanian envoys in Tehran to register protest against the “baseless allegations”.
“The fact that Britain has sided with the rebellious and notorious Zionist regime shows the position of this country,” the ministry spokesman said.
He also offered condolences to the families of the British and Romanian victims in the attack on Mercer Street, asserting that Iran is “concerned about the safety of commercial vessels in international waters”.
The attack on Mercer Street late last month was followed by another incident in the Persian Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, when at least four ships broadcast warnings that they had lost control of their steering under unknown circumstances.
The British maritime trade agency termed it a “potential hijack,” while accusing Iranian naval forces of “seizing” an oil tanker.
In a statement last week, Khatibzadeh said the incidents related to ships in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea were "utterly suspicious," warning against what he termed as "false propaganda" against Iran.
He also warned of “prompt and strong” response to any “military adventurism” by the Tel Aviv regime and its Western allies, while expressing Iran’s commitment to regional stability and maritime security.
An Iranian news agency, quoting an informed security source, also warned of “strong and crushing response” to any action against the country’s national interests and security.
The top commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday issued a fresh warning to enemies, saying the response to any act of aggression will be crushing.
“The enemies who have been speaking, these days, with a language of threats about the Islamic Republic’s establishment, particularly the usurping Zionist regime, must develop an understanding of the realities about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s and the IRGC’s defense and offense power,” General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying.