Iranian IRGC boats tried, failed to seize British oil tanker in Persian Gulf, senior US defense official says
FiveIranianIslamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after aBritishwarship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.
The British warship was said to have been less than 5 miles behind the tanker but soon intercepted the Iranian boats and threatened to open fire. A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was above as well, the official said, adding that Iranian forces left without opening fire.
Navy Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for theU.S. Central Command(CENTCOM), said the military was aware of the reported actions. He added, “Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity.”
Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over theStrait of Hormuz, a vital waterway separating Iran from the United Arab Emirates. Oil exporters transport around 22 million barrels of oil per day through the strait.
U.S. officials also blamed Iran forattacks on six oil tankersin the area.Secretary of State Mike Pompeohas accused the regime of trying to disrupt the flow of oil in the area.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have escalated in recent weeks and could spiral downward after Iran admitted Monday itsurpassed uranium enrichment levelsthat were set by the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.
President Trumppulled the U.S. out of the deal last year but several EU nations remained involved. Those countries — Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain, and the European Union — have called on Iran to stick to its commitments under the deal.
Iran has abandoned restraint in recent months as it seeks relief from U.S. sanctions. The republic has asked the deal’s signatories to provide economic incentives in exchange for the de-escalation of its nuclear program.
Trump has indicated he willimpose additional sanctionson Iran and urged those nations not to give in to its demands.