Three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully attempted to “impede the passage” of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz, signaling a further escalation of tensions between Iran and world powers, AP reported on Thursday July 11th citing the United Kingdom’s government.
The Iranian vessels did not turn away until they received "verbal warnings" from a UK navy vessel accompanying the oil tanker British Heritage, the UK government said in a statement on the incident that took place on Wednesday.
"We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region," the statement said.
Meanwhile, Iran's Revolutionary Guard denied the incident, saying if it had received orders to seize any ships it would have done so "immediately, decisively and speedily".
In a statement released early on Thursday, the Guard's navy said, "There were no clashes with foreign boats, especially English boats," according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The incident occurred a day after the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, warned that Britain will face "repercussions" over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker on July 4th off the coast of Gibraltar, describing it as "mean and wrong".
Thursday’s incident marked the latest escalation of tensions in the Arabian Gulf over the 2015 nuclear deal.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Tehran that sanctions would soon be "increased substantially" on Iran over its breach of the uranium enrichment limit imposed by the nuclear deal that Washington pulled out of last year.