TEHRAN -- Iran on Monday termed the security of the Persian Gulf as its “red line”, denouncing “baseless accusations” by British government officials against Tehran over recent incidents in the regional waters.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters that Tehran has “done its best” to protect the waterway from “insecurities orchestrated by countries like the UK”, while advising the British government “to pay attention to its own responsibilities and duties.”
“These remarks by the British foreign secretary against the Iranian people are not new statements and are part of a chain of irresponsible statements by officials in that country in recent years,” Khatibzadeh said.
In response to a question about allegations leveled by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about the recent ship incident in the Sea of Oman, Khatibzadeh emphasized that such “irresponsible statements” against Iran are “not new”.
“Iran is concerned about the obvious violation that Britain did against the Iranian oil tanker in international waters,” he said. “My strong advice to the British government is to pay attention to its responsibilities and duties. The security of the Persian Gulf is a red line for Iran, and we did our best to protect this waterway from the insecurities of countries like Britain.”
British Royal Marines seized a giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar in a dramatic step that drew Tehran’s fury in July 2019, with the saga ending only after authorities in the disputed island released the vessel about a month later, defying a United States request to retain the seizure.
There has been a dangerous escalation in the region in recent weeks against the backdrop of a suspected drone attack last week that targeted an Israeli-managed tanker, Mercer Street, off the Omani coast.
The regime in Tel Aviv and its Western allies, the UK and the U.S., accuse Iran of orchestrating the attack. Iran has vehemently rejected the charges as “baseless” and “childish”.
London and Washington, the two key Western allies of the Zionist regime, have fully thrown their weight behind Tel Aviv, calling for an “appropriate response.”
Raab last week said the “unlawful and callous” attack had highly likely been carried out by Iran using one or more drones, adding that London was working with partners on a “concrete response.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the chorus later, saying they were “working with partners” on what he termed an “appropriate response” to the attack.
Khatibzadeh said the Foreign Ministry had summoned the British and Romanian envoys in Tehran to register protest against the “baseless allegations”.
“The fact that Britain has sided with the rebellious and notorious Zionist regime shows the position of this country,” the ministry spokesman said.
He also offered condolences to the families of the British and Romanian victims in the attack on Mercer Street, asserting that Iran is “concerned about the safety of commercial vessels in international waters”.
Khatibzadeh also reviewed developments in Afghanistan and the arrival of a number of Afghan nationals in Iran as refugees.
Iran is deeply concerned about developments in Afghanistan, he said. For the past four decades, Iran has hosted its Afghan “brothers and sisters and has never looked down on the Afghan people,” he added.
Now, the Taliban are seizing cities in Afghanistan, and a refugee crisis is growing. Iran wants to manage the refugee crisis and also does not want to see Shias and others in Afghanistan harmed.