DUBAI : The British navy said it prevented three Iranian paramilitary vessels from impeding the passage of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz early Thursday, a day after Iran’s president warned of repercussions for the seizure of its own supertanker.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard denied the allegations, saying if it had received orders to seize any ships it would have done so immediately.
The incident came at a time of heightened tensions over Iran’s unraveling nuclear agreement with world powers. Iran recently began breaching uranium enrichment limits in response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement last year and its imposition of sweeping sanctions.
The U.K. government said in a statement that British navy vessel HMS Montrose had been accompanying the commercial ship, British Heritage, through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway for energy shipments .
The government statement said HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away.
The HMS Montrose is currently on a three-year mission at the British navy’s support facility in Bahrain, the hub of Britain’s naval operations east of the Suez Canal.
The U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain and Central Command declined to comment on the incident.