General Alireza Tangsiri, the commander of the IRGC's navy, said in an August 12 interview on the pro-Hizbullah Mayadeen TV (Lebanon) that the Persian Gulf should remain an international shipping channel and that its security should be entrusted to Iran and Oman. He said that the presence of British and American ships in the Persian Gulf has disrupted security in the region and he claimed that Britain and the U.S. have been "weaving scenarios" in order to justify their illegal colonial presence in the region, in order to continue their exploitation of Middle Eastern countries, and in order to create a pretext for an Israeli presence in the Persian Gulf. He threatened that an Israeli presence in the Gulf could ignite a war in the region, and he warned that Iran is capable of seizing any ship in the Persian Gulf, even if it is part of a joint American-British military convoy. In addition, General Tangsiri denied Iranian involvement in any attacks against tankers in the Persian Gulf, claiming that the attacks were staged by the Americans, and he said that Iran seized Stena Imperio, the British oil tanker, because it was not complying with international law. General Tangsiri further denied that the Grace 1, a tanker carrying Iranian oil that was seized in Gibraltar by Britain, was headed to Syria, and he said that Iran will release the Stena Imperio if Grace 1 is released. General Tangsiri added that Iran will secure oil exports in the region as long as it can export its own oil, as well.
General Alireza Tangsiri: Security in the Persian Gulf is one of the most important things for the Islamic Republic. We believe that this international maritime channel should remain international. Its security should be entrusted to Iran and Oman. We have been providing security for this strategic strait for decades. The arrival of countries that disrupt security and stability from outside the region has diminished the region's security. They weave scenarios to [justify] their illegal presence in the region. There is an American scenario and there is a British scenario, and they exist in an attempt to legitimize their presence in the region and to milk its countries. They take advantage of European and West Asian countries. These industrial countries need the Persian Gulf's oil. The [U.S.-U.K.] presence has caused problems for the people and the navigation in the region. There have been multiple cases of maritime collision because of the Americans. In addition, the presence of nuclear ships would lead to long-term pollution in the event of an incident. We have raised this concern many times. The Americans have launched terrorist attacks on tankers near Iranian territorial waters in order to blame Iran and pin the responsibility on it. When we approached a tanker in order to help its crew, the U.S. accused us of carrying out the attack. They said that we had attached a bomb to the ship's hull. Is it conceivable that we would do such a thing next to our shore and our homes? Is it conceivable that we'd disrupt the security of the Persian Gulf, which is in our trust, and give a pretext to others? Is it conceivable that we would do such a thing? This is the American scenario.
As for the British scenario, the huge Grace 1 tanker was carrying Iranian oil to Europe. It had to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar because it was unable to pass through the Suez Canal. It could not go to Syria. Its size made this impossible. They weaved a scenario saying that the tanker was on its way to Syria. They seized the tanker and mistreated its crew. The sailors are now being held prisoner inside the ship. On the other hand, their tanker in the Strait of Hormuz did not follow international laws, unlike the tanker carrying Iranian oil – it is not an Iranian tanker – which followed those laws. Their tanker turned off its tracking device. They turned off their international devices that identify them, and did not respond to us. To complete these scenarios, they are trying to form an illegal British-American coalition in the region in order to monitor the ships. Never in the past have we had a problem with the passing of tankers and ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Daily, 82-85 tankers pass there, and they have never encountered any problem – including tankers that do not abide by international maritime laws and that cross into our territorial waters. Nevertheless, we have provided them with security.
The American pretext is meant to justify the illegal presence in the region of these two colonialist countries. Now, they are weaving a scenario for the presence of the Zionist entity, which occupies Jerusalem, in the waters of the Gulf. If this happens, America and Britain will bear the responsibility. We do not recognize that entity to begin with, and we warn against any illegal presence in the waters of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. We, the naval forces of the IRGC, are responsible for the security of the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, and we are capable of guaranteeing secure navigation. There is no need for foreigners in the region. I have reiterated this numerous times. I said this in the conference in Qatar: There is no piracy or lack of security in the waters of the Persian Gulf. As for the recent security instability – it was caused by the American and British scenarios. Our message to the countries of the region and to other countries is that as long as we can export our oil from this region, we will guarantee its security so that everybody can export their oil. There has never been a problem in the past. The Strait of Hormuz is open and everybody can benefit from it. Also, many countries benefit now from our territorial waters. Any presence of the illegitimate Zionist entity in the waters of the Persian Gulf could ignite war. Therefore, it should refrain from doing this. They must refrain from this, and the countries of the region must not accept such a thing. The British must release our tanker. As for their tanker, it has violated international laws. The crew are in touch with their families and they are completely safe. We are dealing with them from a humanitarian and Islamic perspective, but look how they are treating the crew of the tanker with the Iranian oil. The captain was led to prison and released on bail. We haven't done such a thing. This is the difference between those who honor human rights and those who don't. It would be unfair for us to release their tanker, which violated international law, while they do not release our tanker. Nobody in our country would accept such a thing. They should release our tanker in order to have their tanker released. This matter is the prerogative of the Iranian leaders.
Whenever our country's leaders want, we are capable of seizing any ship, even if it is part of a British-American military convoy. Their claim that Iran cannot do anything in case of a military convoy is exaggerated. It is meaningless deception, and its aim is to increase their economic exploitation. The world knows that America and Britain no longer inspire any awe in the region. We seized American soldiers twice and British soldiers twice in the Persian Gulf. If they could really protect ships, they should have protected themselves first. I say to all the industrial countries and to our neighbors in the Persian Gulf: Security is stable, and the Islamic Republic is the sponsor of security and stability in the Persian Gulf. This is our home. But it all depends on the exporting of our oil, and on the benefits drawn from this region. Our shores stretch 1,375 kilometers along the Persian Gulf. It is inconceivable for us to not be able to benefit [economically] from this while other countries do. This would constitute an offense and a lack of respect. We will provide security. There is nothing to worry about. We will guarantee security in the Persian Gulf as long as our own security is stable.