An undetermined number of small Iranian boats Wednesday tried to divert the oil tanker British Heritage of the United Kingdom in the Hormuz Strait but withdrew after dissuasive action from the Royal Navy's HMR Montrose, it was reported. No shots were fired during the incident.
We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to deescalate the situation in the region, the British government said in a statement, which added Iran's actions were “against international law.”
Wednesday's alleged episode follows the July 4 seizure of an Iranian-linked oil-tanker by UK forces off the coast Gibraltar on suspicions it was carrying crude oil to an embargoed refinery in Syria, and demands by the US that world powers punish Iran for upping its enrichment of uranium, after which US President Donald Trump promised his country would further sanction Iran “rapidly, substantially.
The UK's statement also pointed out the Iranian ships on Wednesday only turned away after receiving verbal warnings” from the British warship.
The United Kingdom's government has said three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to impede the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was reported to have been involved in the incident, which it denied, according to a statement. And Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected the accusation. Apparently the British tanker has passed. What they have said themselves and the claims that have been made are for creating tension and these claims have no value, he was quoted as saying.
US officials told the Reuters newsagency that five boats believed to belong to the Guards were involved in the incident, thus contradicting the British version, which mentioned only three Iranian units.
The Royal Navy HMS Montrose, which was also there, pointed its guns at the boats and warned them over radio, at which point they dispersed, a US source quoted by Reuters said. The US military confirmed the incident in a statement but did not share any further details in addition to the discrepancy in the number of Iranian vessels to have taken part in the manoeuvre.
“The British ship The British Heritage left the Persian Gulf and sailed through the Strait of Hormuz when five Iranian boats approached him and ordered him to divert his course towards the waters of Tehran,” according to the US version of events.
United States sources quoted by CNN indicated the Heritage was on course to Iranian territorial waters, through which she was eventually allowed.
Against international law, three Iranian ships tried to prevent the passage of a commercial ship, the 'British Heritage', through the Strait of Hormuz, said the British Government.
The 'HMS Montrose' was forced to position itself between the Iranian ships and the 'British Heritage' and to issue a verbal warning to the Iranian ships, which turned around, the statement said.