Iranian boats 'tried to intercept British tanker'

A British soldiers are seen during an operation involving the oil supertanker Grace 1- UK Ministry of Defence

A British soldiers are seen during an operation involving the oil supertanker Grace 1- UK Ministry of Defence

CNN reported, citing two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident, that the British Heritage tanker was making its way out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when the Iranian boats approached.

Last month, Iran shot down a USA drone near the Strait of Hormuz, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off.

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.

The escorting United Kingdom warship was less than 5 miles behind the tanker when it intercepted the Iranian boats. The vessel trained its guns on the assailants, but the Iranian crews heeded verbal warnings and backed off before warning shots were fired. The warship was equipped with 30 mm guns on deck.

Iran says it is justified in breaching the limits because the USA withdrew from the agreement a year ago and imposed sweeping sanctions.

A United States aircraft flying overhead filmed the incident, but the footage had not been released by late Thursday evening.

The incident adds to the escalating tensions between Iran and allied nations operating in the Persian Gulf. "UK's unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of #B_Team is piracy, pure and simple", he wrote, adding, "It sets a risky precedent and must end now". The vessel was allegedly carrying oil to Syria and was captured in Gibraltar.

"Accordingly, it would be in their best interests to immediately release the oil tanker, otherwise, they'll have to face the consequences of the move".

Shamkhani goes on to criticize European countries for their "lack of will" in providing relief from US sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on record accusing Iran of trying to disrupt the flow of oil in the region.

President Trump's pick to become the military's next top officer says Iran has raised its "intensity of malign activity" since the USA pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

The U.S. called for the meeting after Iran announced last week that it had exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Reports said several Iranian boats approached the suezmax oil tanker and asked it to stop in nearby Iranian waters.

America has begun making plans to enlist allies over the next two weeks into a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran.

"Threats to global freedom of navigation require an worldwide solution", Urban added.

Just on Tuesday, the USA announced it was looking to put together a maritime "coalition" that would "ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb".

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