Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker appears to be a tit-for-tat response to the seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier this month. Still, the British foreign secretary warned Saturday that Iran is on a "dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior," reports the Guardian. Jeremy Hunt also promised a "considered but robust" response if Iran did not release the British-flagged Stena Impero soon. Iranian vessels seized the ship Friday in the Straight of Hormuz, and Iran says it did so because the vessel struck a fishing ship and did not respond to the smaller ship's calls, per the BBC.
However, the AP reports that Iran's Guardian Council, which it describes as a constitutional watchdog, said the real reason for the seizure was retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier in July near Gibraltar. "The rule of reciprocal action is well-known in international law," says a council spokesman. British Royal Marines boarded the Iranian tanker because it was accused of transporting oil to Syria in violation of an EU embargo. Friday's seizure of the Stena Impero came just hours after officials in Gibraltar announced they would keep the Iranian ship for another 30 days. Iran also briefly detained another tanker on Friday, but it eventually allowed that Liberian-flagged vessel to continue on. (Meanwhile, Iran and the US disagree on the downing of a drone.)