Iran forces say they seized British-flagged oil tanker in Gulf - GulfToday

Iran forces say they seized British-flagged oil tanker in Gulf

UK-Tanker

Stena Bulk is believed to have been captured by Iran.File/ Reuters

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month, further raising tensions along a vital international oil shipping route.

Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero after the tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.

The Revolutionary Guards said they seized the tanker at the request of Iranian maritime authorities for "not following international maritime regulations," state television reported.

Iran-FrameA combo image shows an IRGC drone flying above an aircraft carrier at an undisclosed location. AFP

Relations between Iran and the West have been increasingly strained since British naval forces seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

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Iran said it would retaliate and days later three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz. But on that occasion, the Iranian vessels backed off when confronted by a British Royal Navy warship.

"We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf," a spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

Boxer-USA video grab shows a map of the route taken by the US amphibious assault ship USS Boxer. AFP

A person familiar with the matter said a meeting of the British government's emergency committee was being held.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office declined to comment.

Britain says these seizures of UK vessels are unacceptable.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he would talk to the United Kingdom after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker.

Trump made the comments to reporters outside the White House.