UK: Iranian vessels tried to block British vessel in Gulf; Iran denies
Britain says three Iranian vessels unsuccessfully tried to impede the passage of a British commercial vessel through the Strait of Hormuz.
The British government said in a statement Thursday that the Iranian vessels only turned away after receiving "verbal warnings" from a UK navy vessel accompanying the commercial vessel British Heritage.
The statement says "we are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region."
It marked the latest escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf over the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which the Trump administration abandoned last year.
Authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian supertanker last week for allegedly trying to breach Western sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Tehran had warned there would be repercussions.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard has denied British allegations of a confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz, saying if it had received orders to seize any ships it would have executed them immediately.
The semi-official Fars news agency carried a statement from the Guard's navy early Thursday saying "there were no clashes with alien boats, especially English boats."