India faces unintended consequences of Iran-UK tiff, tries for early release of nationals aboard seized British vessel 

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at an undisclosed location. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi Jul 20, 2019, 10.53 PM (IST) Reported By: Sidhant Sibal Edited By: Sparshita Saxena

India is facing the unintended consequence of Iran's tiff with the United Kingdom as New Delhi tries for early release of its citizens from the seized UK oil tanker Stena Impero. 

India has 18 of its citizens on the tanker along with nationals of other countries.  

Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, said, "Our Mission is in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals."

The tanker was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday for "failing to respect international maritime rules", the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or IRGC said in a statement.

A British High Commission spokesperson, reacting to WION's question on the safety of Indians on the seized tanker said, "We remain deeply concerned about Iran's actions, and have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period."

“We remain in close contact with our international partners and there will be further meetings over the weekend," he added. 

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and "expressed extreme disappointment" on the seizing of the tanker. 

"Just spoke to ... Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Saturday Iran wanted to de-escalate situation, they have behaved in the opposite way," he tweeted on Saturday.

"This has to be about actions not words if we are to find a way through," Hunt added. "British shipping must and will be protected."

The detained British-flagged tanker Stena Impero must go through a legal process because it violated maritime regulations, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt in a phone call on Saturday, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported.

Indians were also present on Iranian ship seized by the UK off the coast of Gibraltar. The Indian authorities have been given consular access to them, with the MEA saying "due process of law will continue."

It is alleged by the authorities in Gibraltar that the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was headed to Syria with oil that would have violated sanctions, a charge that Tehran denies. Gibraltar is a British Territory in Europe, surrounded by Spain.