Britain says Iran tried to dam its oil tanker

LONDON (Reuters) – Three Iranian vessels tried to dam the passage of a British ship by the Strait of Hormuz however withdrew after warnings from a British warship, the British authorities mentioned on Thursday.

Britain urged the Iranian authorities to “de-escalate the state of affairs within the area”.

“HMS Montrose was compelled to place herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and difficulty verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” a British authorities spokesman mentioned in a press release.

The oil tanker British Heritage is operated by BP (BP.L) below an Isle of Man flag, based on delivery information.

Iranian Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the British report as “nugatory”, based on the semi-official Fars information company.

The incident got here nearly per week after British Royal Marines boarded an Iranian tanker, the Grace 1, off Gibraltar and seized it on suspicion that it was breaking EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

(Graphic: British Heritage – tmsnrt.rs/32uMaeC)

KEY SHIPPING LANE

Tensions within the Gulf have been rising over latest weeks as Iran started to maneuver away from the phrases of a nuclear accord it struck with world powers in 2015 in protest at renewed U.S. sanctions, which have crippled exports of its key income earner – crude oil.

The USA withdrew from the pact final 12 months and reimposed and prolonged punitive sanctions on Iran, saying the unique pact did not curb Iran’s missile packages or tackle U.S. considerations about its habits within the Center East.

Final month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone close to the Strait of Hormuz, an important delivery route linking Center East oil producers with markets in Asia, Europe, North America and past.

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U.S. President Donald Trump aborted a retaliatory army strike, saying it might have killed 150 folks, and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran with out preconditions.

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The 2 sides have continued to commerce barbs whereas saying they need to keep away from conflict.

The USA hopes to enlist allies over the subsequent two weeks or so in a army coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, Marine Basic Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, mentioned on Tuesday

Trump warned on Wednesday that U.S. sanctions on Iran can be elevated “considerably” quickly, because the U.N. nuclear watchdog held an emergency assembly at Washington’s request to weigh Tehran’s breach of a nuclear deal.

Extra reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh in Geneva; writing by Michael Georgy; Enhancing by Jon Boyle

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