Iran has warned that it may resort to force in an effort to free Iranian hostages and a ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
“Should Iran feel the need to launch a military offensive against the hijackers, the international community has already given the military go-ahead,” said Iranian Deputy Minister of Road and Transportation Ali Taheri.
On Tuesday, Somali pirates captured the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Delight, which was chartered by an Iranian company, along with its 25 crewmembers in the Gulf of Aden. The ship was carrying 36,000 metric tons of wheat.
“Iran believes in the need for serious action against the pirates and indeed has a powerful military able to combat them,” said Taheri.
The vessel crew members are all in good health and Tehran has regular contact with them, the official noted.
Iran Deyanat – a bulk carrier owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) – was hijacked on August 21 with 29 Iranian and non-Iranian crew members. The ship was released on October 10.
Iran has criticized world powers on the issue, saying they pursue an apathetic approach toward organized crime in Somalia and the country’s territorial waters.
More than 15 vessels from various countries have been trapped in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia, including a Ukrainian vessel, a Saudi oil tanker and the Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying Iran’s cargo.