DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to impede the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz, Britain said Thursday, signaling a further escalation of tensions over a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving verbal warnings from a British Navy vessel accompanying a commercial vessel, the British Heritage, the British government said in a statement. We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran denied the allegations, saying that if it had received orders to seize a ships, it would have executed them immediately.
The semiofficial Fars news agency carried a statement from the Revolutionary Guards Navy early Thursday saying there were no clashes with alien boats, especially English boats.
The episode was reported a day after President Hassan Rouhani of Iran warned that Britain would face repercussions over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker last week that authorities in Gibraltar suspect was breaching European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
So far, the remaining parties to the nuclear deal Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union have been unable to meet Tehrans demands for enough economic assistance to offset the American sanctions.
In recent weeks, Iran began breaching the limits of the deal, both on the permitted stockpile of low-enriched uranium and the permitted level of uranium enrichment.
It also set an early September deadline for world powers to save the agreement, saying it would otherwise take a third step in going beyond the deals limits.
Iran maintains it is justified in breaching the limitations because the United States withdrew from the deal last year.