' "GOVERNMENT IN WEAK POSITION' OVER IRAN", SAYS CHAIRMAN OF THE DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE'

Forces News TV Channel – 22 July 2019

The Chairman of the Defence Select Committee said the Government has

"allowed itself to be put in a weak negotiating position"

following the seizure of a British-flagged tanker by Iran. Dr Julian Lewis MP, told Forces News there was a failure to prepare for Tehran's actions against British shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

"Whoever initially took the decision to impound that vessel, should have had a plan in place to protect British flagged vessels going through the Straits.

"Somebody who took that decision has something to answer for."

Tehran is believed to have considered the situation "tit for tat", following the Royal Marines seizure of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on suspicion of travelling to Syria. Iranian response to impound the Stena Impero on Friday, should not have come as a surprise to the UK, said Dr Lewis:

"Hostage-taking has been the signature strategy of the Iranian Revolutionary government ever since it seized power in 1979.

"So you don't have to be Von Clausewitz to work out what they were going to do if we impounded one of their vessels."

HMS Montrose is currently the only Royal Navy frigate in the Gulf, despite the increase of tensions, and was unable to prevent the seizure of the Stena Impero. The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has since announced that HMS Duncan has been dispatched and is on course for the Gulf.

Dr Lewis said there are too few warships to protect British interests:

"We need to have more ships there, whether they are our ships or allied ships.

"In any event, we need to have a mini convoy system so that instead of sailing singly through the Straits, ships are gathered up into small groups which then two or three escorts would be adequate to protect."