DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran stated it had seized a British oil tanker within the Strait of Hormuz on Friday however denied Washington’s assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone close by this week, as tensions within the Gulf area grew once more.
Britain stated it was urgently in search of details about the Stena Impero tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and out of the blue modified course after passing by means of the strait on the mouth of the Gulf.
The tanker’s operator, Stena Bulk, stated in a press release the ship was now not below the crew’s management and couldn’t be contacted.
Iran’s state information company IRNA quoted a army supply as saying the vessel had turned off its tracker, ignored warnings from the Revolutionary Guards and was crusing within the incorrect path in a delivery lane.
“We’ll reply in a approach that’s thought of however sturdy and we’re completely clear that if this case will not be resolved rapidly there will probably be critical penalties,” British Overseas Secretary Jeremy Hunt informed reporters.
Hunt stated Britain was “not taking a look at army choices, we’re taking a look at a diplomatic option to resolve the scenario.”
Stena Bulk stated the ship was “in full compliance with all navigation and worldwide laws.”
“There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality,” stated Erik Hanell, president and chief govt of Stena Bulk. He stated there had been no reported accidents.
The Revolutionary Guards haven’t captured a second tanker – the British-operated, Liberian-flagged ship Mesdar – within the Gulf, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim information company reported, quoting regional army sources.
The Mesdar had turned sharply north towards Iran’s coast on Friday afternoon however then modified course once more and headed westward away from Iran, in line with Refinitiv monitoring knowledge.
Relations between Washington and Tehran worsened final 12 months when U.S. President Donald Trump deserted a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran. Below the pact, Iran agreed to limit nuclear work, lengthy seen by the West as a canopy for growing atomic bombs, in return for lifting sanctions. However sanctions have been imposed once more, badly hurting Iran’s financial system.
Trump stated he would discuss to Britain concerning the report of the British tanker being seized within the Gulf.
Relations between Iran and the West have been more and more strained in latest months over safety within the Gulf, U.S. sanctions on Iran and Tehran’s nuclear program.
Army incidents within the Gulf have elevated worldwide concern that either side may blunder right into a conflict within the strategic waterway, which is important to world oil provides.
Oil costs gained on Friday, buying and selling above $62 a barrel, after the most recent spike in tensions alongside the waterway.
A U.S. official, talking on situation of anonymity, stated about 500 U.S. army personnel could be deployed to Saudi Arabia, a part of a rise in troops to the Center East introduced by the Pentagon final month.
Iran shot down a U.S. drone within the Gulf in June and British naval forces seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on July four on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria.
The U.S. army stated on Friday that unarmed surveillance plane had been in worldwide airspace, monitoring the Strait of Hormuz and had been in touch with U.S. ships within the space.
“We have now patrol plane working in worldwide airspace monitoring the scenario inside the Strait of Hormuz,” stated Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.
Iran and america had been at odds over a U.S. assertion that its Navy had shot down an Iranian drone on Thursday within the Strait of Hormuz as a result of it had come too near a U.S. warship.
GRAPHIC-Map of tanker’s route – tmsnrt.rs/32EB5Yv
Tanker assaults close to oil chokepoint – tmsnrt.rs/2FESiH4
Trump stated there was little doubt the U.S. Navy warship Boxer had destroyed an Iranian drone however Tehran confirmed video footage that it stated disproved the incident even occurred.
“Little question about it, no. We shot it down,” Trump stated.
Talking about Iran, he stated america hopes “for his or her sake they don’t do something silly. In the event that they do they are going to pay a value like no one has ever paid a value.”
Trump stated on Thursday that the Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, had destroyed an Iranian drone as a result of it had flown to inside 1,000 yards (914 meters) of the ship in a “provocative and hostile motion.” A U.S. official stated the drone was introduced down by digital jamming.
However Iran stated all of its drones had been accounted for.
“All drones belonging to Iran within the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … returned safely to their bases after their mission of identification and management,” Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior Iranian armed forces spokesman, was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim information company as saying.
He stated there was no report of any “operational response” by the Boxer and Iran’s state tv broadcast a video exhibiting aerial views of ships that it stated disproved the U.S. assertion.
The tv station stated the footage, which got here from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and the timing notations indicated the pilotless plane was nonetheless filming after Washington stated it had been downed.
The US has blamed Iran for a sequence of assaults since mid-Could on delivery across the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran rejects the allegations.
The US has reimposed financial sanctions to throttle Iran’s oil commerce and stress Tehran to renegotiate the nuclear accord, talk about its ballistic missiles and modify its regional insurance policies.
Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; extra reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Reuters workers in Dubai and Kate Holton and Jonathan Saul in London; writing by Alistair Bell; modifying by Invoice Trott, Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman