DUBAI — Three Iranian vessels attempted to stop a British tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, Britain said Thursday, in the latest escalation in the Persian Gulf in recent weeks.
A British navy ship, HMS Montrose, “was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue to verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the British government said in a statement.
“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” the statement said.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps denied Thursday that it was involved in challenging the British tanker, saying in a statement carried by the Fars news agency that there had been no confrontations with foreign vessels in the past 24 hours.
Iran had previously warned Britain of “consequences” for seizing an Iranian supertanker in the Mediterranean last week, a move it denounced as “an act of piracy.”
That vessel was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions, Britain said.
The incident Thursday added to weeks of tension in the Persian Gulf region, including the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for global oil shipments.
In May and June, the United States blamed Iran for attacks on six commercial vessels near the strait — charges Iranian officials deny. Iran then shot down a U.S. Navy spy drone in the area, a move that nearly drew a U.S. military counterstrike.
Karla Adam contributed reporting from London.