British tanker stopped in Gulf 'safe and well': UKMTO
A British oil tanker that was reportedly "immobilised" for several hours in the Gulf is “safe and well", a United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) official said, after Iranian officials threatened to seize a British-flagged vessel.
Reports said the British-flagged supertanker called "Pacific Voyager" stopped moving for hours before changing its tracking signal to "not under command".
The IRIB news agency quoted an unnamed official on Saturday that denied reports suggesting the "Pacific Voyager" had come to a halt in the Gulf.
The source dismissed the news as "fabricated".
British shipping official has also denied the reports saying the supertanker stopped as a part of a routine procedure.
The report came after British forces seized an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar over suspicions the ship was carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
The secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, warned that if Britain failed to release the tanker Iran would be forced to take tit-for-tat action against a British vessel.
A former leader of the Islamic Republic's powerful Revolutionary Guard has also said Tehran should consider seizing a British oil tanker in response.
The detention of the Iranian tanker comes at a sensitive time in Iran-EU ties as the bloc mulls how to respond to Tehran announcing it is poised to breach the uranium enrichment limit it agreed to in a troubled 2015 nuclear deal.
The Grace 1 was halted in the early hours of Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines.
Iran insists the vessel was intercepted in international waters and the foreign ministry official accused Britain's Royal Navy of taking action "tantamount to maritime banditry".
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