Iranians try to seize a British tanker!

An Iranian war-boat fires a missile during the "Velayat-90" navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on December 30, 2011. Iran, which has been carrying out war games in the Strait of Hormuz over the past week, has said that "not a drop of oil" would pass through the strait if Western governments follow through with planned additional sanctions over its nuclear programme. AFP PHOTO/IIPA/ALI MOHAMMADI (Photo credit should read ALI MOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images)

Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship 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 the U.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.”

The British frigate was identified as the HMS Monstrose, according to CNN, which was first to report the encounter.

The incident was the latest in a series of provocations between the Islamic Republic and the West. British forces last week seized an Iranian supertanker that officials believed was operating in violation of European Unionsanctions. The British Royal Marines captured the vessel in Gibraltar after believing it was trying to provide crude oil to Syria, an ally of Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Britain would face repercussions over the seizure.

Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait 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 for attacks on six oil tankers in the area. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has 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 it surpassed uranium enrichment levels that were set by the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.

President Trump pulled 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.

Read the rest at: IRAN

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