UK will not escort every British-flagged ship through Strait of Hormuz

A British soldiers are seen during an operation involving the oil supertanker Grace 1 Credit Reuters

However, the British government said on Thursday three Iranian vessels had tried to block the passage of the British Heritage through the Straits of Hormuz but backed off after receiving a warning.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "The Department for Transport, as competent authority, regularly provides Security Advice to United Kingdom and Red Ensign Group Shipping on how they should operate in areas of high risk".

Five armed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the incident.

Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose is pictured at speed in the Mediterranean Sea during an exercise in October 2012.

He described the Iranians' actions as "contrary to global law".

The HMS Montrose is equipped on the deck with 30 mm guns specifically created to drive off small boats.

Iran warned last week that it might seize a British oil tanker after Royal Marines boarded and detained the Grace 1, a super tanker carrying two million tons of Iranian oil, as it passed through Gibralatan waters last Thursday.

"Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo", Zarif said on his Twitter account on Monday.

"We didn't have a man or woman in the drone", he said at the time.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation very, very carefully".

The other official also called the alleged incident an act of "harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage". "In the last 24 hours, we had no incident involving foreign vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, also not with a British one", a statement said.

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Iran has denied that the incident ever happened, with the country's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claiming that the United Kingdom made up the entire thing for the sake of "creating tension".

Why are UK-Iran tensions escalating?

Mohsen Rezai, senior commander in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said in a tweet: "If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the (Iranian) authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker".

Five Iranian ships unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday - US officials say.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a USA official said the Iranian action "was harassment and an attempt to interfere with the passage", according to Reuters.

In the wake of the attack, Iranian officials had used bellicose language hinting at retaliation that culminated on Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warning Britain there would be "consequences" for the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker.

"You (Britain) are the initiator of insecurity and you will realise the consequences later", President Rouhani said after a cabinet meeting, in remarks carried by Iranian state television.

Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei making a speech in Iran, on 5 June, 2019. The Royal Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is enough to provide reassurance, but probably not to deal with a crisis, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said.

This was the latest provocation by Iran in the series of maritime tensions with the U.S and West.

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