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5 Iranian boats unsuccessfully try to seize British tanker

5 Iranian boats unsuccessfully try to seize British tanker

Washington: At least five boats belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Wednesday failed in their attempt to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, amid geopolitical tensions in the region, according to two US officials.

The British Heritage tanker was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area while passing the Persian Gulf region when it was approached by the Iranian boats, CNN quoted the officials as saying.

The Iranians ordered the ship to change its course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, the officials said.

As the Iranian boats attempted to seize the tanker, the UK’s Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose, which was escorting the British ship from behind, trained its deck guns on the Iranians.

It asked them to back away from the British ship, which they eventually did. A US aircraft recorded the entire incident while it was overhead.

The incident comes amid strained ties between Iran and the US after the latter pulled out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) last year, blaming Tehran for supporting state-sponsored terrorism and conflicts.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had threatened that the UK “will see the consequences” after an Iranian oil tanker bound for Syria was seized by Gibraltar officials and UK Royal Marines last week.

Trump had accused Iran of “secretly” enriching uranium for a long time, warning that more sanctions would be imposed “substantially” on Tehran soon.

On the same day, an emergency meeting was convened by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the behest of the US, to discuss the current status of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The pact was signed by five countries — the US, the UK, Russia, China and Germany, and the European Union — with an aim to limit Iran’s civilian energy programme, thereby preventing it from developing nuclear weapons at some point in the future, in exchange for relief from sanctions that were crippling the country’s economy.

While Iran is yet to withdraw fully from the agreement, it recently announced its decision to increase nuclear enrichment in response to the new US sanctions.

On Monday, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran announced that the country has officially surpassed the 3.67 per cent uranium enrichment limit set under the historic 2015 nuclear deal and could consider increasing the stockpile to 20 per cent in the future.

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