Iran Congratulates Johnson, But Vows to Protect its Waters Amid Tensions Over Seized UK Tanker

Boris Johnson has secured his predicted position as the successor to the premiership of Theresa May. This comes as tensions between Iran and Britain are at boiling point due to the seizing of first an Iranian vessel off the coast of Gibraltar followed by the Iran Revolutionary Guard’s taking of a British ship sailing through Hormuz.

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter moments after the ascension of Boris Johnson to the leadership of the Conservative Party and the next UK Prime Minister to congratulate him on his successful leadership election on Tuesday.

He made clear to the new PM that Iran “does not seek confrontation” with the UK. However, he also reminded Britain that the Persian Gulf Coastline is “our waters & we will protect them”.Making specific reference to “the May government” as guilty of “piracy” and the primary culprit for starting the tit-for-tat tanker seizure’s between the two countries, the comment appears to be an a gesture of good-will to the Prime Minister-designate.

This comes just a day after Javad Zarif told reporters in Managua: “It is very important for Boris Johnson as he enters 10 Downing Street to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation, that Iran wants normal relations based on mutual respect.”

In the interview on Monday he accused the UK of “doing the bidding of the Trump Administration” when it seized the Iranian supertanker ‘Grace 1’ off of the coast of Iran.

Boris Johnson’s Position on Relations With Iran
While Boris Johnson has formed a close relationship with the US President, such as declaring his intention to establish an ‘early trade agreement’ before the clock runs out on the Brexit deadline, it is not yet carved into stone that the UK will follow US foreign policy ever-closer under Johnson Premiership.

Mr Johnson said plainly at a Conservative leadership debate last Monday that he would not support the escalation of conflict with Iran.

“I’m going to be very candid with you all tonight: If you say that going to war with Iran now represents a sensible option for us in the West, I just don’t believe it is.” he said.

He ent on to say that: “Diplomacy must be the best way forward. If you were to ask me whether I think should we now, if I were to be prime minister now, would I be supporting military action against Iran, then the answer is no.”

Roots of the Tensions
The initial straining of relations between the two countries began when UK marines helped detain an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Following the incident off the Gibraltar coast, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the UK ambassador to convey protest. The ministry’s spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, stressed that Tehran considered the tanker’s seizure unacceptable because the sanctions in question were not based on UN decisions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in his turn, accused London of piracy.

The UK later has offered to return the vessel on the promise that oil will not be delivered to Syria.

Conversely, the Spanish Government, the country to which Gibraltar is connected, has claimed that the the ship was in fact seized on request of the US.

Two weeks after the incident, Iran Iran detained the UK-flagged Stena Impero and its crew in the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly flouting international rules. Albeit the crew has been out of reach for any contact, Iran says they are safe and sound and the tanker is docked in the port.

The UK has strongly condemned this move and demanded Iran to release the vessel. However, even still the country has defied the US’s demands to place ‘maximum economic pressure’ on Iran as Britain, and its new prime minister, remain dedicated to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.

Source: News Agencies