A British destroyer sails the Gulf to escort oil tankers

The British warship Kent sailed towards the Gulf to join a US-led mission to protect commercial cargo ships in the region amid mounting political tension between Iran and the West. The move comes after Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. British naval forces seized an Iranian ship off Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of smuggling an oil cargo to Syria.

"Our strong focus in the Gulf remains to defuse the current tension," said Andy Brown, commander of the British ship Kent.

"But we are committed to preserving freedom of navigation and securing international shipping, which is what these deployments are aiming for," he said.

The deployment was announced for the first time last month and would include the takeover of Kent, another British ship already operating in the Gulf, the Duncan. Iran has threatened to halt all exports across the strait, a fifth of the world's oil, if other countries respond to US pressure to stop buying Iranian oil.

British Foreign Secretary Dominique Rapp said the latest move did not represent a change in approach to Iran and that Britain would remain committed to working with Iran to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for lifting sanctions on Tehran.

A British security source said the new mission would focus on protecting navigation security and that Britain would not join US sanctions against Iran.

 

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