Iran attempts to seize British oil tanker, warned off by UK warship

Britain foiled an attempt by Iran to seize an oil tanker on Wednesday.

By World Israel News Staff

Three Iranian vessels reported to be operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted to seize a British oil tanker exiting the Persian Gulf on Wednesday.

“Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the strait of Hormuz,” the British government said in a statement Thursday, The Guardian reports.

The tanker was making its way through narrow waterway when the Iranian ships approached. A British frigate, the HMS Montrose, which escorted the tanker, warned the boats off, finally aiming its guns at them.

The Montrose is fitted with 30 mm guns designed to deal with small boats, The Daily Mail reports.

However, the warning was enough and the Iranians complied with no shots being fired.

“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,” the government statement said.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.”

Iran denied the report, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Iranian Foreign minister Javad Zarif said the British accusations were “worthless.”

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British “claims that have been made are for creating tension and these claims have no value,” Zarif said.

Iran threatened Britain after the country seized an Iranian oil tanker entering the Mediterranean at Gibraltar last Thursday.

“You are the ones initiating insecurity, and will come to realize its consequences in the future,” President Hassan Rouhani said at the time.

The tanker was believed to be headed to Syria in defiance of E.U. sanctions against that country and not Iran.

However, Iran faces increasingly tough sanctions imposed on it by the U.S. after the Trump administration exited the 2015 nuclear deal last year.

Iran recently announced it was increasing its levels of uranium enrichment beyond limits stipulated by the agreement.

President Trump tweeted in response on Wednesday that “Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially.”