Dramatic footage shows balaclava-clad Iranian commandos hijacking a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Video released today captures the moment Tehran troops abseil onto the Stena Impero with 23 crew on board last night.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched a gunboat and helicopter raid on the tanker, which is registered in the UK, claiming it had turned off its tracker and ignored warnings.
Another vessel, the Mesdar, was also intercepted and forced towards Iranian territory in what appeared to be a co-ordinated strike.
Footage shows speedboats surrounding the stricken vessel before the commandos storm the ship.
A UK warship sped to help a British oil tanker that was seized by Iran but arrived ten minutes too late.
The HMS Montrose was dispatched to protect the Stena Impero but arrived after the tanker had entered Iranian waters.
The Impero is now thought to be moored on Iran’s Qeshm Island although its exact whereabouts is uncertain.
The UK has warned of “serious consequences” after Iran last night sparked a new Gulf crisis by seizing two British oil tankers.
It comes as dramatic photos from last week showed HMS Montrose intercepting Iranian patrol boats surrounding the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage.
And Tehran’s foreign minister accused Britain of being an “accessory to the economic terrorism of the US” as tensions escalated.
Javad Zarif stepped up the war of words with Britain, tweeting: “Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold international maritime rules.
“As I said in NY, it is Iran that guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf & the Strait of Hormuz.
“UK must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US.”
A senior Iranian diplomat has been summoned to the Foreign Office following the seizure of the tanker, while Mr Hunt hopes to speak to Mr Jarif on the phone later today.
It comes two weeks after Royal Marines seized Iran’s Grace 1 tanker off Gibraltar – prompting Tehran to threaten “retaliation”.
The ship appeared to be in violation of EU sanctions on exporting oil to Syria but Iran called it an act of piracy.
The Iran Students News Agency, partially funded by the country’s government, has also taunted the UK today by releasing pictures of the Stena Impero docked in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who attended an emergency Cobra meeting, said there would be “serious consequences” and pledged a robust response.
But he added: “We’re not looking at military options, we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation, but we are very clear that it must be resolved.”
Mr Hunt said the Stena Impero was surrounded by four vessels and a helicopter, and was heading into Iranian waters.
Mr Hunt said: “This is totally and utterly unacceptable. It raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping, and indeed international shipping, in the Strait of Hormuz.”
“Our priority continues to be to find a way to de-escalate the situation.
“That’s why I reached out to the Iranian foreign minister, that’s why due process in Gibraltar continues.
“We need to see due process happening in Iran as well, we need to see the illegal seizing of a British flagged vessel reversed, we need that ship released, and we continue to be very concerned about the safety and welfare of the 23 crew members.”
A statement on the situation will be made to parliament on Monday and will to detail the further measures Britain will take.
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Source: The Sun