Friday, 23 August, 2019

Iran denies USA destroyed an Iranian drone near Persian Gulf

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard announces seizure of oil tanker accused of smuggling fuel in the Strait of Hormuz Iran Guards say they have seized a 'foreign tanker'
Patty Aguilar | 19 July, 2019, 10:57

What's next: The State Department plans to speak to Washington diplomats Friday about establishing a maritime initiative to root out Iranian military activity in the Gulf.

Recently, Iran has inched its uranium production and enrichment over the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, trying to put more pressure on Europe to offer it better terms and allow it to sell its crude oil overseas.

The United States blames Iran for a series of attacks on shipping in the world's most important oil artery since mid-May, accusations Tehran rejects but which have raised fears the long-time foes could stumble into war.

Iran's President Hassan Rohani also urged Europe on July 18 to "accelerate" its efforts to salvage the deal during a phone call with Macron, saying, "Iran is determined to keep open all options" to preserve the agreement, a statement on the government's official website said.

The claims about the Iranian drone come amid another escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. The U.S. was expected to take decisive military action against Iran, including the bombing of several military installations, but Trump reversed the order and said he was looking to deescalate the situation.

Commenting on Trump's words, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: "We have no information about having lost a drone today". CNN reported that the ship used electronic jamming to bring it down rather than hitting it with a missile.

Tension has been growing since the U.S. withdrawal previous year from the 2015 global deal to control Iran's nuclear capability.

In May, two Emirati oil tankers were among four tankers attacked in acts of sabotage that the US has blamed on Iran.

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U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, declined to comment.

Iran said yesterday it had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel in the Gulf, as the United States military commander in the region said the USA would work "aggressively" to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.

Two weeks ago, a British marine force helped seize an Iranian tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, on the grounds that it was believed to be carrying oil from Iran to Syria - a violation of European sanctions.

The tanker is thought to be the United Arab Emirates-based MT Riah, missing since the weekend in the Strait of Hormuz.

"We do this (inspecting ships) every day".

The defence official said: 'We certainly have suspicions that it was taken.

Oil prices jumped on Thursday after news of the ship seizure.

The U.S. response was the latest incident to stir tensions in the Persian Gulf.

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