Iranian authorities are struggling to get their stories straight on the capture of the British oil tanker Stena Impero this past week, with the Iranian Guardian Council spokesman suggesting it was purely a “reciprocal action”for Britain capturing an Iranian tanker earlier this month.
The Iranian Ports and Maritime Department, however, didn’t mention this at all. Rather, they focused on the specific legal pretext of the seizure, which presented the Stena Impero as having engaged in a sort of hit-and-run accident in the Strait of Hormuz.
Officials maintain that the Stena Impero had collided with an Iranian fishing vessel, then refused to respond when the fishing vessel tried to contact them. Previous reports indicated that the tanker also shut off its transponder in the area, though its not clear when that happened.
Iranian boats came out and captured the tanker at that point. Iranian officials say that refusing to answer was a violation of maritime regulations, and the Foreign Ministry says they’ll have to go through the legal process for this matter.
Whether that legal process happens or not remains to be seen, and there seems to be a fairly good chance that at the end of the day, the two nations simply trade their tankers back to one another in some sort of compromise.