The Latest: Gulf incidents rattle shipping industry

Javad Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, at United Nations headquarters, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Latest on developments related to tensions between the U.S and Iran (all times local):

4 a.m.

Energy experts say recent seizures and attacks aimed at oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz will raise insurance rates for shipping companies and, if unchecked, could reduce tanker traffic in the vital waterway.

Britain’s foreign secretary said Friday that Iranian authorities seized two ships, one flying under the British flag, the other registered in Liberia. The events occurred in a passageway that carries one-fifth of the world’s crude exports.

An Iranian news agency says the Liberian ship was later let go.

Energy economist Michael Lynch says if these kinds of incidents continue, shipping companies might shy away from the Persian Gulf. He says the short-term effect will mostly fall on the shipping industry in the form of higher insurance rates.


2:10 a.m.

U.S. Central Command says the U.S. has intensified air patrols over the Strait of Hormuz in response to the Iranian seizure of a British tanker.

A Central Command spokesman, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, says a small number of additional patrol aircraft are flying in international airspace to monitor the situation.

He also says Central Command’s naval arm has been in contact with U.S. ships operating in the area to ensure their safety.


1:25 a.m.

The semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that a second oil tanker detained by Iranian forces has been released and has left Iranian waters.

Fars reported Friday that the Liberian-flagged Mesdar tanker was briefly detained in the Strait of Hormuz and given a notice to comply with environmental regulations before being allowed to continue on its way.

Britain’s foreign secretary said that Iranian authorities seized two vessels Friday in the strategic waterway, actions signaling an escalation that has become a flashpoint in tensions between Tehran and the West.


12:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Iran is “nothing but trouble.” But the president also says he thinks that the standoff with Tehran will eventually work out “very nicely.”

Trump spoke to reporters at the White House on Friday as British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was confirming that Iran had seized one British and one Liberian-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.

It was the latest escalation of tension in the strategic waterway that has become a flashpoint in tensions between Tehran and the West.

Trump says “Iran is showing their colors” with the seizures. He says “Iran is in big trouble right now” because its economy has been crippled by economic sanctions. He says it would be easy to straighten out the problem, or to make it worse.


12:30 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says two vessels have been seized by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz.

Hunt said Friday he will shortly attend an emergency government session to see what can be done to secure the release of the two vessels.

He says they are a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.

He said the crews comprise a range of nationalities but are not believed to include British citizens.


11:30 p.m.

UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti says the seizure of a British oil tanker by Iranian forces represents an escalation in tensions in the Persian Gulf that makes it clear more protection for merchant vessels is urgently needed.

He said Friday the action is “in violation of international regulations which protect ships and their crews as they go about their legitimate business in international waters.”

He called on the British government to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure the safe and swift return of the ship’s crew.


11:15 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Iran and ongoing efforts to ensure that Tehran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.

Their phone call Friday came just as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was announcing that it had seized a British oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz.

On Thursday, the USS Boxer downed an Iranian drone in the strait. Last month, Iran shot down an American military drone.

Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. Macron recently sent a top diplomatic adviser to Tehran help quell escalating tension in the Persian Gulf.


11:05 p.m.

The operator of oil tanker Stena Impero says it is unable to contact the ship after it was approached by unidentified vessels and a helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.

Northern Marine Management and shipping firm Stena Bulk say in a statement that the vessel was in international waters and is now heading toward Iran. The ship has 23 crew aboard.

The British government says it is urgently seeking information after reports Iran has seized the British-flagged ship.


10:50 p.m.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it has seized a British oil tanker that was passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The IRGC’s website,, says the tanker “Stena Impero” was seized Friday by IRGC forces for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and has transferred the vessel to an Iranian port.

The report did not elaborate what port it was transferred to.


9:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says there is “no doubt about it” that a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone, despite Iranian denials that it lost an unmanned aircraft.

Trump is speaking from the Oval Office Friday about the incident Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz. His comments come a day after announcing that the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards (915 meters) of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

He says: “No doubt about it. We shot it down.”

Neither Trump nor the Pentagon spelled out how the Boxer destroyed the drone or provided any video or other evidence from the incident. Several U.S. officials said the ship used electronic jamming to bring it down rather than hitting it with a missile. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record about the event.

Electronic jamming breaks the data links between a drone and its controller on the ground, causing it to crash. Such a move requires a vehicle-mounted, counter-drone device on the flight deck of the ship — a device that’s visible in official photographs of the Boxer released by the Pentagon after the incident.

National security adviser John Bolton said “there is no question this was an Iranian drone and USS Boxer took it out.”

An Iranian news agency reported Friday that the country’s armed forces say all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf returned safely to their bases.

— By Robert Burns.


9:25 p.m.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has released video images it claims proves that a U.S. warship did not destroy an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state TV shows video it says was taken by an Iranian drone on Thursday of the USS Boxer and another American warship.

The IRG on its website said the drone recorded three hours of video of the USS Boxer and five other vessels Thursday starting when the ships first entered the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump on Thursday said the Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

The claims from both sides mark another escalation of tensions between the two countries less than a month after Trump nearly launched an airstrike.


5:45 p.m.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has asked the international community to use diplomatic tools to avoid a dangerous escalation in Iran.

Talking to reporters in Florence on Friday, Maas said “there’s a strong danger of an escalation in Iran and we don’t want things to keep going this way.”

U.S.-Iran tensions are on the rise again as U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday an American warship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. But military officials in Iran denied the incident.

The German minister added that “there are diplomatic tools, talks and negotiations with countries in the Gulf region and with the United States.”

Maas said he talked to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, noting that “everywhere there’s a willing to contribute to a de-escalation. We want to sooth the current tensions.”


5:30 p.m.

Gibraltar’s government says the British overseas territory’s Supreme Court has extended for 30 days the detention of an Iranian supertanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions.

The government said in a statement on Friday that the court has set Aug. 15 as the date for a new hearing on the Panama-flagged Grace 1, which was intercepted off the southern tip of Spain.

British Royal Marines boarded the ship July 4 amid suspicion it was taking a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria, deepening Persian Gulf tensions

The EU has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over its continued crackdown against civilians.

Gibraltar police have arrested the vessel’s captain, chief officer and two second mates as part of their investigation. All are Indian.


4:15 p.m.

The price of oil is up as tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf region, where a fifth of the world’s crude is shipped through.

Energy prices rose on Friday, a day after President Donald said a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone. Iran denies its drone was struck and says all its unmanned aircraft in the region returned to base safely.

It’s the latest incident to increase uncertainty in the region, where oil tankers have been attacked or threatened recently.

About 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf, so investors are aware of the potential for disruptions to ship traffic.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil advanced 77 cents, or 1.4%, to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international oil standard, picked up $1.03, or 1.7%, to $62.96 per barrel.


3:10 p.m.

The head of Gibraltar’s government says he met privately with Iranian officials to defuse tensions surrounding the seizure of an Iranian supertanker near the British overseas territory.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told parliament on Friday that the meeting in London earlier this week “was both constructive and positive.”

Picardo says he wants to “de-escalate” after the interception of the Panama-flagged tanker off the southern tip of Spain on July 4.

The tanker is suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and its seizure stoked international tensions over the Persian Gulf.

Picardo says he met with the Iranian officials at the Foreign Office in London on Wednesday, after asking the British government to approach Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about talks. Picardo says he told the officials that due process of law must be followed and that the case is before Gibraltar’s Supreme Court.

— this item has been corrected to show that Picardo met with Iranian officials, not the foreign minister;


3 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is praising French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to facilitate talks between Iran and the United States, saying diplomatic efforts are critical.

Merkel told reporters on Friday that “every possibility for contact should be sought to prevent an escalation.”

Since the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year, the other parties to the agreement — Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the European Union — have been trying to preserve it.

But Merkel says “the fact that we are keeping to this agreement doesn’t mean that we don’t see a lot of what Iran is doing very critically, like the influence on Syria, the attitude to Israel, the influence in the Yemen war concerns us a lot, the ballistic missile program.”

She says that “outside the agreement, there is good reason for further talks with Iran about these activities.”


2:50 p.m.

China has praised an Iranian offer to speed up ratification of an agreement on access to its nuclear sites, while criticizing the latest U.S. sanctions on Chinese and other entities for allegedly helping Iran buy materials for its nuclear program.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that the offer from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sends “a positive signal that Iran is willing to seek a compromise solution.”

The Iranian parliament is not due to ratify the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association until 2023.

The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals in Iran, China and Belgium.

Geng said China opposes America’s “long-armed jurisdiction over other countries, including China.” He called U.S. unilateral sanctions the root cause of the current tension.


2:40 p.m.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard says it will release images taken by a drone that President Donald Trump says was hit by a U.S. warship to disprove his claim.

The Guard’s website,, published a statement on Friday saying these images will show the Guard’s drone had been carrying out its regular mission as the USS Boxer arrived in the Strait of Hormuz.

It didn’t say when the images would be released.

Trump on Thursday said the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

The Guard said the drone sent images before and after the time the Americans claimed the aircraft was destroyed on Thursday. The Iranian drone reportedly later returned to base safely.

The statement added that Guard forces continue to carefully monitor all movements of foreigners — especially “the terrorist forces” of the U.S. and the British in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.


2:25 p.m.

An Iranian lawmaker says the U.S. president is seeking to increase tensions in the Persian Gulf region by “falsely claiming” that a U.S. warship targeted an Iranian drone.

Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, says that “with such allegations, America plans to create tensions and psychological warfare in the region and in Iran, and hide its failures.”

His remarks were carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency on Friday.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said an American warship, the USS Boxer, took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

Hosseini also added that “Trump’s claim is not endorsed by anyone, because it is not true.”


11:40 a.m.

An Iranian news agency is reporting that the country’s armed forces say all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf returned safely to their bases.

The report comes after President Donald Trump on Thursday said an American warship, the USS Boxer, took defensive action after an Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted military spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekari as saying on Friday that “all Iranian drones that are in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one which the U.S. president mentioned, after carrying out scheduled identification and control missions, have returned to their bases.”

Gen. Shekarchi also said there have been no reports of any confrontation between the USS Boxer and an Iranian drone.


10:30 a.m.

Iran is denying a U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the strategic Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi tweeted on Friday: “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in New York for U.N. meetings, said there’s “no information about losing a drone.”

President Donald Trump on Thursday said the USS Boxer took defensive action after an Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries, less than one month after Iran downed an American drone in the same waterway and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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