Three ships belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have “attempted to impede” a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the government said in a statement. The vessels approached the BP-owned British Heritage in the Gulf on Wednesday (July 10) asking it to stop in nearby Iranian waters, but withdrew after a Royal Navy warship issued them “verbal warnings” over radio.
American defense personnel said the Navy frigate HMS Montrose, which was accompanying the tanker, “pointed its guns at the [Iranian] boats”, according to US media reports. The Ministry of Defence had no immediate comment when contacted by The Independent.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iran President Hassan Rouhani said the United Kingdom will face “consequences” for its seizure of an Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar last week.
British Royal Marines boarded the Grace 1 oil supertanker last week over suspicions it was carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria. The supertanker now sits in British-controlled waters in the overseas territory of Gibraltar.
Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies have risen sharply since Washington stepped up economic sanctions against Iran and moved to bring the country’s oil exports to zero as part of a “maximum pressure” policy to make Iran halt actions that it said undermined regional security. Iran has responded to the sanctions by starting to breach limits put on its nuclear activities under a 2015 deal with world powers.