IRAN CONTINUES TO HOLD A BRITISH OIL TANKER AND ITS 23 CREW MEMBERS AFTER SEIZING IT ON FRIDAY. IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARD RELEASED VIDEO TODAY SHOWING THE STENA IMPERO FLYING AN IRANIAN FLAG, DOCKED IN THE SOUTHERN PORT CITY OF BANDAR ABBAS. THERE IS NO SIGN OF THE CREW. BRITAIN’S TRANSPORT AGENCY TWEETED A MAP THIS MORNING THAT IT SAYS SHOWS IRANIAN BOATS AND TROOPS FORCED THE TANKER OUT OF INTERNATIONAL WATERS AND HIGHLIGHTED THE LOCATION WHERE IT WAS “INTERCEPTED, BOARDED AND RE-ROUTED INTO IRANIAN WATER.” IN AUDIO RECORDINGS FROM A SECURITY FIRM RELEASED TODAY, AN IRANIAN OFFICER CAN BE HEARD TELLING THE STENA IMPERO TO CHANGE COURSE ON FRIDAY.>>Sreenivasan: AND A BRITISH NAVAL OFFICER ON A SHIP IN THE AREA INSISTS THE STENA IMPERO BE ALLOWED TO SAIL THROUGH THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ.>>THIS IS BRITISH WARSHIP FOXTROT TWO THREE SIX. YOU MUST NOT IMPAIR, IMPEDE, OBSTRUCT OR HAMPER THE PASSAGE OF THE MV STENA IMPERO.>>Sreenivasan: JOINING ME NOW FOR MORE ON THE DEVELOPING SITUATION IN THE PERSIAN GULF AND IRAN, BRITAIN, AND THE UNITED STATES’ RESPONSES IS JACKIE NORTHAM, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT FOR NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO WHO JOINS US FROM FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. FIRST, THIS IS A SLOW AND DEVELOPING STORY BUT IT SEEMS THE TENSION KEEPS GOING HIGHER AND HIGHER NOW WITH PEOPLE KIND OF POSITIONING, WHERE WAS THE SHIP, WHERE WASN’T THE SHIP, WHO TOLD THEM TO GO WHERE, AT WHAT TIME.>>YEAH, CERTAINLY THE VIDEO HELPED TO START SORT OF PROVING SOME OF THESE THINGS FOR SURE. THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT THE TENSION IS HIGH IN THIS AREA. THERE IS BIG CONCERN ABOUT SHIPS WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE SAILING THROUGH THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ OR IN THE SURROUNDING WATERS. AS YOU SAY, THIS SHIP WAS IN OMANI WATERS AT THE TIME. ON TOP OF THAT, INSURANCE RATES ARE GOING UP. SOME COUNTRIES LIKE THE U.K. SAYS STAY AWAY, BRITISH SHIPS, FOR NOW. BECAUSE WE JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. AND, REALLY, THEY REALLY DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO HELP THESE SHIPS. THE STENA IMPERO, IF THE BRITISH NAVY COULD HAVE GOT THERE IN TIME, IT COULD HAVE HELPED THEM BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THE BRITISH FRIGATE WAS 60 MINUTES AWAY. IT COULDN’T DO MUCH AND IT GIVES YOU A SENSE JUST HOW THIN THE RESOURCES ARE IN THIS AREA TO HELP ANY SHIP THAT IS TAKEN BY AN IRANIAN.>>Sreenivasan: WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND ALLIES?>>WELL, THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FOR ITS PART IS TRYING TO SOLVE THIS DIPLOMATICALLY. JEREMY HUNT, THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, HAS SAID HE DOESN’T WANT A MILITARY ANSWER TO THIS. HE HAS REACHED OUT TO IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF, AND THE TWO HAVE HAD A TALK. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS JAVAD ZARIF DOESN’T HAVE ALL THE POWER IN IRAN. YOU HAVE THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD THAT ALSO HAVE A SAY AND THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE DOING THIS. THE U.S. ITSELF IS TRYING TO PULL TOGETHER A COALITION, A MARITIME COALITION TO HELP PROTECT SHIPS THAT ARE IN THIS REGION, BUT SO FAR IT HASN’T GOT A LOT OF TRACTION. THERE IS NOT A LOT OF APPETITE BECAUSE A, IT’S DANGEROUS; B, THERE IS JUST SO MANY SHIPS IN THIS AREA THAT IT WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO PROTECT THEM. THE OTHER PROBLEM TOO IS THAT A LOT OF THE COUNTRIES, PARTICULARLY THE EUROPEANS, ARE NOT HAPPY THAT THE U.S. PULLED OUT OF THIS 2015 NUCLEAR ACCORD WITH IRAN AND THEY SAY THIS IS WHAT REALLY HAS LEAD TO WHERE… THE POSITION THAT WE’RE IN RIGHT NOW.>>Sreenivasan: AND THEN THERE’S ALSO KIND OF A DIRECT TENSION BETWEEN IRAN AND THE U.K. IRAN SAYS THAT THIS IS RETALIATORY ACTION IF ANYTHING AND THE U.K. IS GOING THROUGH A TRANSITION OF POWER VERY SOON.>>OH YES, THE NEXT LEADER OF THE U.K., WHICH SHOULD BE DECIDED THIS WEEK, IS WALKING HEADLONG INTO THIS CRISIS. BOY, TALK ABOUT BAPTISM BY FIRE. THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS, ABSOLUTELY. YOU KNOW, PART OF THE PROBLEM TOO IS THAT IRAN SAYS THIS WAS A RETALIATORY ACTION FOR A TANKER THAT BRITISH FORCES SEIZED IN GIBRALTAR EARLIER THIS MONTH, AND WHAT HAPPENED WAS ON FRIDAY THE GILBALTAR… GILBALTAR COURT DECIDED TO EXTEND THE DETENTION OF THAT TANKER AND ALL OF A SUDDEN A FEW HOURS LATER, THE IRANIANS HAVE TAKEN A BRITISH TANKER. SO IT SEEMS LIKE A TIT-FOR-TAT, WHICH COULD KEEP CONTINUING IF THIS GOES ON.>>Sreenivasan: IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT DIPLOMACY, YOU’VE GOT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, THE FORMER LEADER OF IRAN, SAYING THINGS LIKE, “HEY, LET’S START DIRECT TALKS WITH THE UNITED STATES AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MOVE FORWARD ON THIS,” AND IT KIND OF CAME OUT OF THE BLUE.>>RIGHT, AND JAVAD ZARIF, AGAIN, THE IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, WHEN HE WAS IN U.S, IN NEW YORK LAST WEEK, HE MET WITH A LOT OF WESTERN JOURNALISTS AND HE WAS KIND OF DANGLING THAT OUT THERE AS WELL, THAT PERHAPS THERE COULD BE SOME REOPENING OF TALKS HERE, YOU KNOW, UNDER VERY STRICT CIRCUMSTANCES, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT THE U.S. DIDN’T RISE TO, THEY DIDN’T WANT TO TAKE THAT BAIT, IF YOU LIKE. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS SOME SORT OF NEGOTIATION IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE CARRIED OUT BECAUSE IT IS SO VOLATILE IN THE GULF RIGHT NOW THAT… AND SO MUCH OF THE WORLD’S CRUDE, 20 PERCENT OF THE CRUDE, WORLD’S CRUDE, FLOWS THROUGH THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR GLOBAL SHIPPING THAT THIS REMAINS SORT OF A CALM AREA RATHER THAN WHAT WE ARE SEEING RIGHT NOW. SO THERE IS REASONS ON ALL SIDES TO TRY TO SORT THIS OUT. BUT WE’LL HAVE TO SEE WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE NEXT LITTLE WHILE. APPARENTLY SENATOR RAND PAUL OF KENTUCKY HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO BE A MIDDLEMAN, IF YOU LIKE, BETWEEN IRAN AND THE U.S. RIGHT NOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP SAYS HE HAS GIVEN THE SENATOR THAT RIGHT. SO WE WILL SEE IF THAT MIGHT SOMEHOW OPEN UP THINGS HERE.>>Sreenivasan: ALL RIGHT, NPR’S JACKIE NORTHAM, JOINING US FROM WASHINGTON, TONIGHT, THANKS SO MUCH.>>THANK YOU.