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A second warship sent by the British Royal Navy to the Persian Gulf in the wake of deteriorating relations between the UK and Iran has arrived at its destination.
The BBC reports that the HMS Duncan joins the HMS Montrose, which was involved in the altercation between the crew of the Stena Impero and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which seized the vessel earlier this month.
The tanker seizure was the second attempt by Iranian military at a British-flagged vessel after Tehran made an open threat to respond in-kind to a seizure of the Iranian Grace 1 by the Gibraltar authorities on allegations that it violated EU sanctions against Syria by carrying fuel to the war-torn country.
Iran brushed the allegations off and said if the tanker was not released it would retaliate. Its first attempt at retaliation failed: the IIRGC targeted a vessel named British Heritage, but it was accompanied by the HMS Montrose, which threatened it would shoot if the Iranian military boats did not back away.
The second run-in between the HMS Montrose and the Iranian military, however, had a different ending and the latter boarded the Stena Impero as planned because the Royal Navy warship was too far to respond to events. Since its deployment in the Gulf, the HMS Montrose has accompanied 35 British-flagged vessels, according to data from the Ministry of Defence quoted by the BBC.
Since then, relations between the UK and Iran have been escalating, and while according to British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace there is still hope for a diplomatic solution to the situation, the Royal Navy will continue escorting British-flagged vessels in the Persian Gulf "until this is the reality".
Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said the UK could release the Iranian tanker, provided that Tehran supplied guarantees that it would not continue on its way to Syria. According to Hunt, who spoke to his Iranian counterpart at the time, the Iranian side did not want to escalate the confrontation and would look for a way to solve the problem.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.