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article imageIran's Revolutionary Guard deny confrontation with UK frigate

By Ken Hanly     Jul 12, 2019 in Politics
Iranian Revolutionary Guards issued a statement denying the alleged confrontation between some of its boats and the UK frigate Montrose that allegedly was able to warn them off any attack on a BP-owned oil tanker.
The alleged confrontation
A recent BBC article reports: "Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker near the Gulf - before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship, the Ministry of Defence has said. HMS Montrose, a British frigate shadowing the BP-owned tanker, was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said. He described the Iranians' actions as "contrary to international law". "
The Montrose was said to have warned off the Iranian boats. The warning was successful. British officials said they not intend to escalate tensions and do not intend to increase escorts for ships in the future.
The US reaction is more aggressive
US officials are still in the process of discussing the exact nature of their operation but they intend to provide military escorts for commercial shipping. The plan may be opposed by President Trump. Trump wants other nations to share in the costs of carrying out US wishes. He would prefer that other nations step up and do the escorting. Given that the UK is a strong ally of the US and often carries out US policy it seems the Trump faces an uphill battle to have any other country carry out the escorting.
It is unclear what actually happened
Early reports had the Montrose chasing off at least five Iranian boats and had turned its guns on them. However as the BBC report now has it, there were just three Iranian boats and they were simply given a verbal warning which was sufficient to drive them off. Unlike the US the UK seems not to take the situation that seriously.
Iran had threatened to seize a UK tanker
Iran provided some evidence the incident really happened. An Iranian Guard commander had tweeted “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker."
Just last week British Royal Marines helped authorities in Gibraltar seize an Iranian tanker. Authorities claim there was evidence that the tanker was taking oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. A spokesperson for the Royal Gibraltar Police say they have arrested the Indian captain and ship's chief officer on suspicion of breaching EU sanctions. However, neither has been charged so far.
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