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Reports: Iran Seizes British-Flagged Ship in Straits Of Hormuz

Dave Royse

Iranian media said Friday that the country's Revolutionary Guard seized a British-flagged oil tanker.

The ship's owners said it was unreachable and appeared headed toward Iran, sending crude oil prices higher. 

Owners of the Stena Impero said the ship unexpectedly changed course and headed into Iranian waters — and they were unable to reach it. 

A statement from Britain's Ministry of Defense said that it was "urgently seeking further information" on the tanker and assessing an as-yet murky situation.

British newspaper The Daily Star reported that the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard seized the ship and that it was headed toward a base at Qeshm. 

The ship reportedly has 23 sailors aboard.

Relations between Iran and Britain, as well as other western nations, have been strained since the British seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions.

Iran is also bristling under heightened tensions with the United States after the Trump administration backed out of a nuclear deal with the country. 

The owners of the Stena Impero said the British-flagged ship had been approached by small boats and a helicopter as it was moving through the Strait of Hormuz, in international waters near Iran.

“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran,” the ship's managers said in a statement, according to The Guardian.

The price of Brent crude oil rose by more than 75 cents per barrel following the report. It was trading up 0.87% at $62.47 Friday afternoon. 

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