The United States says a US Navy ship has “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the vessel, a claim Iran promptly denied. In remarks at the White House on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said the drone had flown to within 1,000 meters of the USS Boxer and had ignored “multiple calls to stand down”.
Iran called on Britain on Friday to immediately release an oil tanker that British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a foreign ministry spokesman told state news agency IRNA. The United States, Iran’s longtime foe, blames Tehran for a series of attacks on shipping in the world’s most important oil artery since mid-May, accusations Tehran rejects.
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 tanker British Heritage, was forced to move between the three boats and the tanker, a spokesman said. Iran had threatened to retaliate for the seizure of one of its own tankers, but denied any attempted seizure.
Iran said on Sunday it will shortly boost its uranium enrichment above a cap set by a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, prompting a warning ‘to be careful’ from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pressured Tehran to renegotiate the pact. In a live news conference, senior Iranian officials threatened further violations, saying Tehran would keep reducing its commitments every 60 days unless European parties to the agreement protected it from sanctions imposed by Trump.
Royal Marines have helped seize an Iranian supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, escalating tensions between the UK and Tehran as the agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program unravels. Tehran responded by summoning Britain’s ambassador to its foreign ministry to explain what it described as an “illegal seizure”, which had been earlier described by the UK as enforcing the EU’s sanctions regime against Syria.
European leaders have resisted calls to start reimposing sanctions on Iran after the country said it had for the first time broken the terms of the nuclear deal it signed with foreign powers in 2015. The move is a carefully calibrated and reversible step intended to put pressure on Europe to do more to help mitigate the effect of crippling US sanctions.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran which condemned fresh U.S. sanctions on Tehran as “mentally retarded.” But Trump later left the door open for talks, saying that Iran should speak to the United States “peaceably” to ease tensions and potentially lift U.S. economic sanctions.
President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran Monday in part to retaliate after the downing of a US drone last week, with the punitive measures set to target Iran’s Supreme Leader, military officials and its top diplomat, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he signed an executive order imposing “hard hitting” sanctions on Iran that will deny Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his office “and many others” access to financial instruments.
Donald Trump reportedly gave initial approval for the US military to launch strikes on Iran in retaliation for Tehran shooting down an American drone, before pulling back at the last minute. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down on Thursday night, the New York Times quoted an unnamed official as saying.
Iran has said the country plans to quadruple production of low-level enriched uranium and will reach the limit of the stockpile allowed under the nuclear deal within days. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on May 8 the remaining signatories – the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia – had 60 days to implement their promises to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from reimposed US sanctions. Iran says its decision to reduce commitments under the nuclear deal is within its rights under the 2015 agreement.