Iran summons UK envoy as tensions rise over Gulf of Oman attack

Zamira Rahim

Iran has summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after the UK government blamed the country for an attack on two oil tankers.

Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s foreign secretary, said on Friday that Iran was responsible for the 13 June attack on the vessels, which left one tanker ablaze in the Gulf of Oman.

“During the meeting...Iran strongly condemned the unfounded allegations and criticised Britain’s unacceptable stance regarding the attacks,” the semi-official Students News Agency ISNA reported.

The head of the Arab League earlier called on Iran to “be careful and reverse course” after the attack stoked interstate tensions in the Middle East.

The US blamed Iran for the fire, which occurred near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Tehran has denied all involvement in the incident.

“We believe that responsibilities need to be clearly defined,” said Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Arab League’s Secretary-General.

”The facts will be revealed, I am sure, it’s only a matter of time.”

“My call to my Iranian – and I call them Iranian brothers: Be careful and reverse course because you’re pushing everybody towards a confrontation that no one would be safe if it happens.”

“We believe that the truth needs to be clearly established in relation to these attacks,” he added.

Mr Aboul Gheit was speaking in New York on Friday, after meeting with Antonio Guterres, the UN’s Secretary General.

As conflicting reports over the cause of the fire emerged, Mr Guterres called for an independent investigation into the alleged attack.

“We believe it is very important to avoid, at all costs, a major confrontation in the Gulf,” he said.

The UN’s intervention came as the leaders of Iran and the US exchanged angry public statements over the alleged attack.

The Pentagon released a video showing what it said were Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the tankers.

“Iran did do it,” Donald Trump said on Friday, while calling into Fox & Friends, a television show.

He labelled Iran a “nation of terror”, which had been “exposed” by the US video, during the segment.

The Japanese owner of one of the two tankers, the Kokuka Courageous, said crew members had seen flying objects attacking the ship, appearing to contradict the US account.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, said on Friday that the US was ”using all opportunities for radicalising the situation, which undermines the stability not only in our region but in the whole world”.

The White House has increased scrutiny of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in recent months, taking the rare step of classifying a foreign government entity as a terror group.

Additional reporting by agencies