Iran's Revolutionary Guard claims the vessel was caught trying to smuggle Iranian oil to foreign ships; Trey Yingst reports. Iran on Friday denied President Trump's claim that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf after it threatened the ship -- an incident that further escalated tensions between the countries. Trump said Thursday that the USS Boxer – which is among several U.S. Navy ships in the area – took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down. Trump blamed Iran for a "provocative and hostile" action and said the U.S. responded in self-defense. But Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters as he arrived for a meeting at the United Nations that "we have no information about losing a drone today."
WASHINGTON/DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Iran said it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday but denied Washington's assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby this week, as tensions in the Gulf region rose again. Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf. The tanker's operator, Stena Bulk, said in a statement the ship was no longer under the crew's control and could not be contacted. Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted a military source as saying the vessel had turned off its tracker, ignored warnings from the Revolutionary Guard and was sailing in the wrong direction in a shipping lane. "We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters.
LONDON - Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway that has become a flash point between Iran and the West, intensified after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker on Friday and briefly detained a second vessel. The seizing of the British tanker marked perhaps the most significant escalation since tensions between Iran and the West began rising in May. At that time, the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran. The showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war. Details of what took place Friday remained sketchy after Iran reported that it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Ordered by the White House to the Persian Gulf, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier has become a 100,000-ton barometer of the tensions between Iran and the U.S. So far, the Lincoln and its accompanying ships have yet to enter the gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. It has been filmed by the U.S. Navy on Friday carrying out exercises with other American warships in the Arabian Sea, which is over 1,000 km (620 miles) away. While U.S. military officials aren't publicly explaining the delay, it may be to calm nerves before the ships pass through the strait, a narrow waterway where Iran often shadows American vessels. In December, about 30 Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels trailed the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and its strike group through the strait as Associated Press journalists on board watched.
GENEVA/LONDON - Britain on Saturday denounced Iran's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a "hostile act" and rejected Tehran's explanation that it seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident. Iran's Revolutionary Guard posted a video online showing speedboats pulling alongside the Stena Impero tanker, its name clearly visible. Troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelled to its deck from a helicopter, the same tactics used by British Royal Marines to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago. Friday's action in the global oil trade's most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation after three months of confrontation that has already taken Iran and the United States to the brink of war. It follows threats from Tehran to retaliate for Britain's July 4 seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1, accused of violating sanctions on Syria.