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Iran claims to have captured a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz


A British warship had to prevent a similar attack on an oil tanker just last week

Gallo Images / Copernicus Sentinel 2017/ Orbital Horizon

Iran has claimed to have captured a British-flagged oil tanker that was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran and the U.K. have been squabbling over another oil tanker

On July 4, the United Kingdom seized an Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, that it suspected of violating sanctions against Syria. Iran's supreme leader threatened to seize a British oil tanker if the Grace 1 was not released.

On July 10, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tried unsuccessfully to take control of the oil tanker British Heritage. However, this attempt was foiled by the Royal Navy ship HMS Montrose, which positioned itself in between the Iranian gunboats and the oil tanker. Iran would later deny that the incident happened.

On Friday, the Supreme Court on the British territory of Gibraltar extended the time that the Grace 1 could be detained for 30 additional days. Jeremy Hunt, the U.K.'s foreign minister, said that the Grace 1 would be released if Iran could give assurances that it would not violate the sanctions against Syria.

The U.S. also had a recent incident with the Iranians in the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that a U.S. Navy ship had shot down an Iranian drone that was "threatening safety of ship and ship's crew." Iran has denied that this ever happened.

Here's what happened now

On Friday, the owners of the tanker Stena Impero released a statement that said it had been "approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters." The tanker had been heading to Saudi Arabia before this happened.

The company, Stena Bulk, said it was "presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran."

So far the British government has only said that it is "assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf."

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