Germany and France on Saturday called on Iran to immediately release a British oil tanker it seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
The capture of the Swedish-owned, British-flagged Stena Impero on Friday by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a “dangerous further aggravation of an already tense situation,” a German foreign ministry statement said.
“Such action hampers a necessary de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf region,” the French foreign ministry added.
Both Germany and France condemned the taking of the Stena Impero and the seizing earlier this week of a smaller Panamanian-flagged tanker, expressing concerns for merchant shipping in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
They both underlined their solidarity with Britain.
“We call on Iran to release the ships immediately,” the German ministry said.
The French ministry statement said: “We call on Iranian authorities to quickly release the (British) ship and its crew, and to respect freedom of navigation principles in the Gulf.”
Britain, Germany and France were the lead European powers that negotiated with Iran to curb its nuclear program in a 2015 deal in return for the lifting of sanctions.
The US has pulled out of the agreement and imposed sanctions to block Iran exporting its oil, much of which transits through the Strait of Hormuz.
Up to now, Britain, Germany and France had sought to keep the deal with Iran alive by setting up a trade mechanism not subject to the US sanctions, but rising military tensions in the Gulf have put that at risk.