Iran Pursues ‘Toll’ in Strait of Hormuz; Britain Considers Sanctions After Ship Seizure
July 21: Iran reiterated Sunday that it will pursue a “toll” on all ships travelling in the Strait of Hormuz — the latest escalation of a global crisis that threatens the movement of oil through the Middle East and may force a reluctant Britain to impose fresh economic sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian lawmakers demanded that each vessel in the strait pay a fee for safe passage just 48 hours after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commandos in black ski masks rappelled from a helicopter onto a British oil tanker and took control of the vessel. The ship, the STENA IMPERO, and its 23 crew members remained in detention at an Iranian port Sunday as the West scrambled to figure out how to respond to Tehran’s latest provocation.
The United Kingdom, which has been reticent to pursue major new economic sanctions on Iran as London clings to an Obama-era deal limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, suggested over the weekend that it may indeed resort to economic punishment.
British officials said they intend to beef up the nation’s naval presence in the Persian Gulf region, and the Pentagon said it is launching a multinational effort to increase “surveillance and security” in the region.
The demand that all ships in the region pay a toll, an idea first floated several weeks ago, ups the ante considerably and suggests that Tehran has no intention of scaling back its disruptions.
Source: Washington Times / Ben Wolfgang