Iranian Boats Tried to Block British Tanker in Persian Gulf, U.K. Says – The New York Times

LONDON — A British warship forced three Iranian boats to back off after they sought to block a British tanker from passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday, in the latest escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West.

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

Iran denied any attempt to stop the tanker, according to Iranian news agencies.

Last week, British forces seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar bound for Syria, on suspicion that it was violating European Union sanctions, which Iran called an act of piracy. Some Iranian officials spoke of retribution, and an officer in Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaei, wrote on Twitter that if the tanker were not released, Iran “will be duty-bound to take reciprocal action and seize a British oil tanker.”

The dispute on Thursday is the latest complication in a three-way drama involving Iran, the United States and Europe that has played out since last year, when President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and restored sanctions that had been suspended under the deal.

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