SWITZERLAND, JULY 11 – The unease in the Middle-East caused by the lingering tension between Iran and the West has be escalated to new levels after Iran attempted to seize a British oil tanker sailing through the straits of Hormuz.
According to media reports, armed vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tried to capture the British Heritage tanker while it was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday.
Iran’s ships reportedly ordered the British vessel to divert its course and stop in Iranian waters which it was sailing nearby.
However, British frigate the HMS Montrose was escorting the tanker and trained its guns on the Iranians before giving them a verbal warning to back off.
According to CNN, a US aircraft was overhead and recorded video of the incident as the Iranian ships then fled. A CNN correspondent said the US military is still analysing the video and may release it on Thursday night.
UK officials had previously confirmed that the Montrose was in the region performing a ‘maritime security role.’
The latest development comes after British forces seized an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar last week, which Britain says was violating EU sanctions by carrying fuel to Syria.
Iran denies the vessel was bound for Syria and says the UK acted on behalf of the United States, which has separate sanctions in place against Tehran itself. Senior Iranian politicians had threatened to retaliate by seizing a British tanker.
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a cabinet session earlier on Wednesday that Britain would ‘see the consequences’ after the Gibraltar seizure.
In remarks broadcast on Iranian TV, Rouhani said: ‘You (Britain) are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later.
‘Now you are so hopeless that, when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates (to escort it) because you are scared.