British warship prevents Iranian attempt to 'impede' tanker

Erika Holt
July 12, 2019

The incident on Wednesday took place against the backdrop of rising tensions between the Iran and the U.S. which saw Donald Trump accuse the Middle Eastern nation of attacking several tankers in the Gulf.

The UK Department for Transport has issued a recommendation to British commercial ships near the Strait of Hormuz to exercise caution and put their security in a heightened state in case they are approached by "aggressive" Iranian patrol boats, Sky News reported, citing anonymous sources.

Oil futures (CL=F) rose 0.41% to well over $60 a barrel, remaining at levels not seen since May.

The British Ministry of Defense said the Iranian boats attempted to bring the BP-owned tanker to a halt as it was attempting to exit the Persian Gulf near the island of Abu Musa and pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

The UK's Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose had been escorting the tanker from the rear.

"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region", the statement added.

Iran's Revolution Guards denied the United Kingdom account Thursday, according to Iran's Tasnim news agency.

Oil companies have warned that continued disruption around the Strait of Hormuz, which handles up to a third of the world's seaborne oil exports, could have a dramatic impact on petrol prices.

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The tanker's detention comes at a particularly sensitive time as tensions between the USA and Iran grow over the unraveling of a 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from previous year.

Last week, authorities in Gibraltar intercepted an Iranian supertanker that was believed to be breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Tehran's crude oil to war-ravaged Syria.

"Threats to global freedom of navigation require an worldwide solution", Urban added. The boats, apparently belonging to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, allegedly requested the British vessel to change course and enter Iranian territorial waters.

At the same time, US Central Command issued a statement calling on the worldwide community to work out a solution to ensure the safety of navigation.

Iran's defence minister earlier this week called the seizure of its tanker a "threatening act" while President Hassan Rouhani warned Britain of consequences over the action.

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

Iran's Foreign Ministry maintains that the oil tanker was not bound for Syria and its seizure has taken place at the behest of the US. "While we are not commenting on these events, we thank the Royal Navy for their support".

This latest row comes at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

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