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Iran tries to 'impede' passage of British tanker through Strait of Hormuz

HMS Montrose in Devonport, Plymouth. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

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 over the interception in Gibraltar 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."

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, however, rejected the claim that they tried to stop a British tanker, the Guards said in a statement carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The Guards' Navy said in a statement their patrol boats were carrying out normal duties, according to Fars.

"In the past 24 hours there has been no encounter with foreign ships including English ships," the statement said.

The latest developments follow days of sabre-rattling in the wake of the detention of the supertanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar last week.

On Wednesday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Britain would face "consequences" over the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker in British waters off the Rock.

Iran has demanded the immediate release of the Grace 1, which was boarded and seized last week by Gibraltar's law enforcement agencies and British Royal Marines.

"You (Britain) are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later," President Rouhani said after a cabinet meeting, in remarks carried by Iranian state television.

"Now you are so hopeless that, when one of your tankers wants to move in the region, you have to bring your frigates (to escort it) because you are scared."

"Then why do you commit such acts (seizure)? You should instead allow navigation to be safe."

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