UK Foreign Secretary asks parliament to condemn Iranian ‘piracy’

The British government told parliament it will take four steps aimed at curbing Iranian hostilities in shipping lanes near the Strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf following the seizure of a British-flagged ship, considered state “piracy” by Britain’s foreign office.

“It was … an act of state piracy which the House will have no hesitation in condemning,” UK Foreign Secretary Hunt said in a statement on Monday after briefing parliament, referring to Iran obstructing the passage of and boarding the Stena Impero last week.

“We will seek to establish this mission as quickly as possible,” Hunt said, adding that a guided missile Type 45 destroyer warship will arrive in the area by July 31.

Secondly, the Department of Transport raised the security level for all British-flagged ships to Level 3 — its highest level — “advising against all passage in Iranian waters and, for the moment, in the entire Strait of Hormuz.”

In another step, Hunt revealed that the United Kingdom had “constructive conversations” over the weekend with a number of countries following a US-proposed naval alliance for strategic commercial shipping areas.

“Freedom of navigation is a vital interest of every nation, we will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region,” the British foreign secretary said.

Hunt was clear that the steps to be undertaken have nothing to do with US actions to pressure Iran on the nuclear deal, but rather to protect Britain’s commercial interests at sea.

“It will not be part of the US maximum pressure policy on Iran because we remain committed to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement,” Hunt explained.

Lastly, all British-flagged ships should give notice to their country’s maritime authorities prior to passing through the Strait of Hormuz for “the best protection.”

“We will then advise them as to the safest way to transit, which may involve travelling in convoy,” he said. “We are strengthening measures to protect ships flying the flags of other countries but which have British crew on board.

About 1,300 ships are registered by the United Kingdom, according to Hunt, and on an average “two or three” of those ships pass through the Strait of Hormuz daily.