Another potential escalation between Iran and the western powers appeared to have been averted amid claims by US and UK officials on Thursday that three ships belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards sought “attempted to impede” a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian officials bluntly denied any such incident took place.
Wednesday’s alleged incident in the Gulf follows the 4 July seizure of an Iranian-linked oil-tanker Grace I by UK forces off the coast Gibraltar on suspicions it was carrying crude oil to an embargoed refinery in Syria. It happened on the same day the US demanded that world powers punish Iran for upping its enrichment of uranium.
Tehran has warned for days that Britain would face “repercussions” – but, adding to the confusion, Iranian officials on Thursday denied the Panamanian-flagged ship was owned by Iran, with a military commander claiming it was only leased by Tehran.