By Pooya Stone
The British ambassador to Iran denied on Sunday that the Iranian foreign ministry summoned him after London said Tehran was “almost certainly” responsible for tanker attacks in the Gulf last week.
Ambassador Rob Macaire tweeted that the claim that he was summoned was “news to [him]”, just one day after the Iranian foreign ministry released a statement saying they had summoned his because of his government’s accusations.
Macaire wrote: “I asked for an urgent meeting with the Foreign Ministry yesterday and it was granted. No ‘summons’. Of course if formally summoned I would always respond, as would all Ambassadors.”
The Iranian foreign ministry said that its head of European affairs Mahmoud Barimani met Macaire on Saturday and “strongly protested against the unacceptable and anti-Iranian positions of the British government”.
This came after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday said that Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for the twin tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman last Thursday.
This echoed the comments of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the attack had Iran “written all over it”. The US has also released a video that they say shows Iranian troops removing a mine from the hull of one of the tankers.
Iran denied any involvement, according to the foreign ministry, and criticised Hunt for “false” accusations and “blind and precipitous alignment” with US views.
This incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between the UK and Iran over the nuclear deal and the fate of British-Iranian charity worker jailed in Iran on charges of spying and trying to overthrow the government.
The UK has rejected the charges and has repeatedly called for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be released and for her five-year sentence to be quashed.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after taking her baby daughter to meet relatives over Iranian New Year, began another hunger strike in protest at her detention on Saturday.
Her husband Richard Ratcliffe, stood outside Iran’s London embassy on Saturday and vowed to maintain his own hunger strike for the same period as his wife. He asked Iranian authorities to release his wife immediately, allow the British embassy to check on her health, and grant him a visa to visit her and their daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe previously went on hunger strike in January.