Britain is weighing its next moves in the Gulf tanker crisis, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized a ship three days ago.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office says she will chair a meeting of Britain’s COBR emergency response committee in London on Monday morning to discuss the crisis.
Little clue has been given by Britain on how it plans to respond after Iranian Revolutionary Guards rappelled from helicopters and seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in apparent retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier.
Footage obtained by Reuters from an Iranian news agency on Sunday showed the tanker docked in an Iranian port with Iran’s flag hoisted atop.
The British government is expected to announce its next steps in a speech to parliament on Monday but experts on the region say there are few obvious steps London can take at a time when the United States has already imposed the maximum possible economic sanctions, banning all Iranian oil exports worldwide.
“We rant and rave and we shout at the ambassador and we hope it all goes away,” said Tim Ripley, a British defence expert who writes about the Gulf for Jane’s Defence Weekly.
“I don’t see at this point in time us being able to offer a concession that can resolve the crisis. Providing security and escort for future ships is a different matter.”