July 21 (Reuters) – Iran‘s ambassador to Britain warned against escalating tensions on Sunday, a day ahead of an expected response from the UK which could include fresh sanctions on Tehran or other steps after its seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.
Britain has called the capture of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday a “hostile act”.
Below are details about the Strait:
WHAT IS THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ?
* The strait lies between Oman and Iran
* It links the Gulf with the Gulf of Oman to the south and the Arabian Sea beyond
* It is 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point, with the shipping lane just two miles (3 km) wide in either direction
* The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building pipelines
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
* Almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Strait – some 17.4 million barrels per day (bpd) versus consumption of about 100 million bpd in 2018, data from analytics firm Vortexa showed
* OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq export most of their crude via the Strait
* Qatar, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, sends almost all of its LNG through the Strait POLITICAL TENSIONS
* The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports
* U.S. waivers which had allowed continued sales of Iranian oil to eight countries – China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey – expired on May 2
* Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle its economy
* The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting commercial shipping in the region MAJOR PAST INCIDENTS
* 1980-1988 – During the Iran-Iraq war, the two sides seek to disrupt each other’s oil exports in what is known as the Tanker War
* July 1988 – U.S. warship Vincennes shoots down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 aboard, in what Washington says was an accident and Tehran says is a deliberate attack
* Early 2008 – The United States says Iranian vessels threaten three U.S. Navy ships in the Strait
* July 2010 – Japanese oil tanker M Star is attacked in the Strait – a group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades linked to al Qaeda claims responsibility
* January 2012 – Iran threatens to block the Strait in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear programme
* May 2015 – Iranian ships seize a container ship in the Strait and fire shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which Iran says damaged an oil platform
* July 2018 – President Hassan Rouhani hints Iran could disrupt oil trade through the Strait in response to U.S. calls to reduce Iran‘s oil exports to zero
* May 2019 – Four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, are attacked in the Gulf just outside the Strait. U.S. officials blame Iran, Tehran denies the charges
* June 2019 – Two tankers are attacked south of the Strait which Washington blames on Iran and Tehran denies
* June 2019 – Iran shoots down a U.S. drone
* July 2019 – The USS Boxer destroys an Iranian drone in the Strait after it threatens the U.S. Navy ship but Iran denies it has lost a drone
* July 2019 – Iran seizes British-operated oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait
Sources: Reuters/Refinitiv/Energy Information Administration (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by Jason Neely)