Iran Seizes 2 Vessels Amid Rising Tensions

One is British-flagged, the other Liberian-flagged
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2019 2:56 PM CDT
Updated Jul 19, 2019 5:18 PM CDT
Iran Says It Has British Tanker as It Clashes With US on Drone
The USS Boxer in San Diego Bay. President Trump says the ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz.   (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse Monford/U.S. Navy via AP)

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said two vessels have been seized by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz, per the AP. Hunt said Friday he will attend an emergency government session to see what can be done to secure their release. One is a British-flagged vessel and the other is Liberian-flagged. He said the crews comprise a range of nationalities but are not believed to include British citizens. The semi-official Fars news agency later reported that the Liberian-flagged tanker had been released, per the AP, and had left Iranian waters. Earlier, Iran said it seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, a fresh escalation in confrontations in the strategic waterway that has become a flashpoint in tensions between Tehran and the West. The website of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said the tanker Stena Impero was seized Friday for "non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations" and was taken to an Iranian port, the AP reports.

The incident came as Iran and the US emphatically disagreed Friday over whether a US warship downed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf. American officials said they used electronic jamming to bring down the unmanned aircraft, while Iran said it simply didn't happen. Neither side provided evidence to prove its claim. At the White House on Friday, President Trump said flatly of the Iranian drone: "We shot it down." But Pentagon and other officials have said the USS Boxer, a Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, actually jammed the drone's signal, causing it to crash, and did not fire a missile. In Tehran, the Iranian military said all its drones had returned safely to their bases and denied there was any confrontation with the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship. (Britain reported a faceoff with Iran in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month.)

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