THE Royal Navy has driven off three Iranian vessels which tried to stop a commercial vessel from travelling through the Strait of Hormuz.
The altercation came a day after Iran spoke out against Britain due to the interception of a supertanker believed to be breaching EU sanctions by carrying a shipment of crude oil to Syria.
‘Contrary to international law, three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz,’ a Ministry of Defence spokesman told PA.
‘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.
‘We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to deescalate the situation in the region.’
HMS Montrose is due to become a Portsmouth based ship in March 2022.
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted by the official IRNA news agency during a Cabinet meeting as saying last week's seizure of the supertanker off Gibraltar was ‘mean and wrong’.
He warned London: ‘You are an initiator of insecurity and you will understand its repercussions,’ without elaborating.
The seizure and incident in the Strait of Hormuz come at a particularly sensitive time as tensions between the US and Iran grow over the unravelling of a 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from last year.
European parties to the nuclear deal with Iran on Tuesday said they have ‘deep concern’ that Tehran has begun enriching uranium to a higher purity than allowed under the agreement and called for an urgent meeting of all involved in the accord.
In a joint statement by Britain, Germany, France and the European Union, the group expressed ‘deep concern that Iran is not meeting several of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’, or JCPOA, as the 2015 nuclear deal is known.
The US has said it will move ahead with plans to build a coalition of nations to monitor and deter Iranian threats against commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf area and in a waterway around Yemen, according to a top military officer.