UK Sends Warship To Strait of Hormuz In Iran Warning
Britain has sent the warship HMS Argyll to join a French vessel and US carrier group to the Strait of Hormuz, said UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in a warning to Iran following its threats to close the waterway.
"This was a routine movement but it underlined the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law. Any attempt by Iran to block the Strait would be both illegal and unsuccessful," said Hague.
It is expected that the UK would use its bases in Cyprus to cover any military action in the region.
Yesterday, the European Union agreed more sanctions on Iranian crude oil imports to the EU and on gold in an initiative driven by the UK and USA and confirmed at a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.
Iran continues to refuse to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the EU in its conclusions.
Hague welcomed further sanctions on Iran after relations between the two countries worsened on fears that Tehran is developing a nuclear weapons industry.
"Iran's recent decision to commence 20% enrichment at its underground site at Qom shows that it continues to choose a path of provocation," said Hague.
Iran has responded with threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world's oil supply passes and accused the West of 'psychological warfare'.
In December, Iran's Parliament voted to expel British Ambassador Dominick John Chilcott after the UK cut off banking ties with the country over concerns that its nuclear programme may have military dimensions.
This followed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran, which highlights fresh concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme. It is the first time that the UK has used these powers to cut an entire country’s banking sector off from its financial sector.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“The IAEA's report last week provided further credible and detailed evidence about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme. Today we have responded resolutely by introducing a set of new sanctions that prohibit all business with Iranian banks.
“We have consistently made clear that until Iran engages meaningfully, it will find itself under increasing pressure from the international community. The swift and decisive action today coordinated with key international partners is a strong signal of determination to intensify this pressure.”
From Monday 21 November 2011, all UK credit and financial institutions were required to cease business relationships and transactions with all Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran, and their branches and subsidiaries.
"Sanctions are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Our objective remains a diplomatic solution that gives the world confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes. We are ready to talk at any point, if Iran puts aside its preconditions and returns to negotiations," said Hague in comments to Parliament.
Iranian Vice President Rahimi was reported as saying in December that “if sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz”. However it must be borne in mind that 95% of Iran’s oil exports, representing over 80% of its foreign earnings, transit the Strait of Hormuz. It is very much against Iran’s interests to seek to close the Strait to oil exports, said Hague.
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