UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called Iran’s seizure of British linked tankers “unacceptable” and threatened “serious consequences,” although the UK government was not looking at military options, he said on Saturday in London before entering a COBRA meeting.

“This is completely unacceptable, freedom of navigation must be maintained, he said. We are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly, there will be serious consequences.

He added Iran was the “biggest loser” if freedom of navigation was restricted, and said, “We’re not looking at military options; we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation.”

Iran announced it had seized the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker on Friday but denies reports that it seized the British-managed Mesdar, saying the ship was “shortly stopped” by Iranian authorities.

The UK seized an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar on July 4, which was suspected of being on its way to sell oil to Syria in breach of international sanctions, to which Tehran announced it would respond in kind.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been escalating since Iran announced in May that it would partially withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal which the Obama administration, Iran, the European Union, and the P4+1 signed in 2015 – the Trump administration withdrew from the deal in May 2018, re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

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