Iranian gunboats thwarted in attempt to seize British tanker in Strait of Hormuz

July 11, 2019

A number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard gunboats attempted to capture a U.K. oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, but backed off when a U.K. Navy warship approached, Central Command spokesman and Navy Captain Bill Urban told Fox News. The incident is the first time in recent months that Iran has tried to engage a western vessel militarily.

The tanker was carrying oil for BP when Iranian gunboats tried to block it from passing through the Strait. The tanker then verbally warned the gunboats and held them off until the British warship could get close enough to threaten fire.

The warship, the HMS Montrose, was about five miles behind the tanker. A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft also flew above. No gunfire was exchanged, and the Iranian gunboats ultimately backed off and let the tanker pass.

These actions were thought to be in retaliation for British forces seizing an Iranian oil tanker last week that was allegedly trying to deliver oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had threatened repercussions for the confrontation.

CENTCOM Responds

“Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity,” Urban said in response to the incident.

U.S. tensions with Iran have been high since spring after President Donald Trump put additional sanctions on Iran following American withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. That agreement set limits for how fast Iran could enrich uranium.

Iran admitted on Monday that it exceeded the limits of uranium enrichment spelled out in the agreement, which is still in effect with several European countries. The Middle Eastern nation seems to be getting more desperate to bring an end to sanctions that are strangling it economically.

The U.S. has also accused Iran of attacking six oil tankers in the region in the aftermath of Iranian threats suggesting that if it is prevented from getting oil through, nobody else would be able to either. An unmanned U.S. drone was shot down in June, leading the U.S. to launch a cyberattack against Iran after pulling back on a planned airstrike.

Keeping the Pressure On

The American sanctions have put heavy pressure on Iran to renegotiate the 2015 deal, and it seems that Iran is preparing to come to the table despite these ongoing provocations. Fox Business reporter Trish Regan tweeted Monday that a source told her that Iran is in fact ready to negotiate with the U.S.

It appears that Trump’s sanctions are having the intended effect of making Iran squirm and perhaps eventually capitulate to what the U.S. wants — a drawing-down of its nuclear program to prevent it from getting weapons it could use against Israel and its allies, including the U.S.

Democrat hand-wringing about Trump getting the U.S. into a war has been going on since the day he took office, if not before. So far, though, Trump seems to know exactly what he’s doing as he works to get countries like North Korea, China, and Iran to do what he wants and what is in the interest of America.

National leaders are not always predictable, nor are their motivations always easy to understand. This is where Trump’s vast experience dealing with rich and powerful business leaders is proving to be an extremely valuable asset.

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Jen Krausz

Jen Krausz is a Conservative Institute staff writer. A lifelong member of the Republican Party, she has an English degree from a liberal arts college and has contributed to numerous publications including Newsmax.