Iranian Boats 'Attempted To Impede' British Oil Tanker In Strategic Strait

Iran oil tanker seizure

FURIOUS Royal Marines aboard the ship and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Nonetheless, the relationship between the United Kingdom and Iran has also become increasingly strained, after Britain said the Iranian regime was "almost certainly" responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in June.

The HMS Montrose, a U.K. Royal Navy warship, was traveling close by from behind to monitor the British Heritage tanker.

The British defense ministry said three Iranian boats tried to "impede the passage" of the British Heritage, a 274-meter (899-foot) tanker owned by BP that can carry a million barrels of oil.

The report named the warship as HMS Montrose, a British frigate last seen escorting the tanker Pacific Voyager to the UAE port of Fujairah on Monday.

It also urged "the Iranian authorities" to "de-escalate the situation in the region".

Iran's armed forces chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, said despite the incident Iran had the "upper hand" on its enemies, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

World military leaders are discussing a plan to provide naval escorts for oil tankers transiting through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

A week later, Iran shot down a US drone with a surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz.

The altercation came a day after Iran spoke out against Britain over the interception in Gibraltar of a supertanker believed to be breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of crude oil to Syria.

The US Energy Information Administration, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that stockpiles of American crude oil fell to their lowest level in three months.

Reports say the Iranian vessel was travelling in accordance with global law before it was taken over.

Iran's ships reportedly ordered the British vessel to divert its course and stop in Iranian waters which it was sailing nearby.

The Iranian vessels turned away after "verbal warnings" from the frigate, said a separate British government statement cited by BBC News.

Iran denied the report.

Last month Donald Trump called of military strikes against the Islamic Republic after it shot down a USA surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a US official said the Iranian action "was harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage", according to Reuters.

The incident follows increased tensions between Iran and the UK.

After the incident Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said the UK's action had set "a unsafe precedent and must end now".

A section of the route that the British tanker had been following in early July according to Marine Traffic.

There have been heightened tensions between the United States and Iran since early May when an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force were dispatched to the Middle East to counter new intelligence that suggested Iran and its affiliated groups were planning attacks against US interests in the region.

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