Britain says three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to impede the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz.
The British government said in a statement Thursday that the Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving “verbal warnings” from a UK navy vessel accompanying the commercial vessel British Heritage.
The statement says “we are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”
“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” a British government representative said in a statement.
It marked the latest escalation of tensions in the Arabian Gulf over the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the Trump administration abandoned last year.
Authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian supertanker last week for allegedly trying to breach Western sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Tehran had warned there would be repercussions.
Earlier this week, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, said Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar last week will not be “unanswered.”
“Capture of the Iranian oil tanker based on fabricated excuses ... will not be unanswered and when necessary Tehran will give appropriate answer,” Bagheri said.
Britain’s claim that Iran tried to stop one of their oil tankers in the Gulf on Wednesday is worthless, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Apparently the British tanker has passed. What they have said themselves and the claims that have been made are for creating tension and these claims have no value,” Zarif said, according to Fars.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied on Thursday that they had impeded a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the force’s Sepah news agency said.
“There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones,” the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement.