The U.S. will not waver from its course of maximum pressure against Iran, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday, as the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers appears unraveling with the Trump administration’s pullout. (July 8)
LONDON – Iranian ships attempted to obstruct a British-flagged commercial oil tanker as it sailed in the Persian Gulf, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, a move that comes amid heightened tensions over a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The Iranian vessels are suspected of belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They were forced away from the oil tanker “British Heritage” after receiving verbal warnings from a British navy vessel accompanying the commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz – a strategically important choke point for oil delivery.
“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” the British government said in a statement.
No shots were fired and the Iranian vessels heeded the “HMS Montrose”‘s warnings.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. denied the allegations.
The semi-official Fars news agency carried a statement from the Guard’s navy early Thursday saying “there were no clashes with alien boats, especially English boats.”
“HMS Montrose” has since left the Persian Gulf, according to the ministry.
The incident follows a warning from Iran that it would retaliate against British interests after Royal Navy marines helped seize an Iranian oil tanker in the Mediterranean Sea last week allegedly on its way to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. Iran said the seizure was illegal and that the supertanker was not headed to Syria.
Britain has sided with the United States in accusing Iran of attacking oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in June, a claim that Iran also denies. The attacks, along with Iran’s shooting down of a U.S. drone, have roiled oil markets. About a quarter of the world’s seaborne crude oil is transported through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passageway thabetween Oman and Iran that connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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