IRAN'S Revolutionary Guard forces have seized a foreign oil tanker with 12 crew accused of smuggling oil, according to the country's state-run TV.
The tanker captured is thought to bee the Panama-flagged MT Riah which was in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which is home to a Revolutionary Guard base.
Iran's state TV, IRIB, which has not identified the ship has claimed the one million litres of oil it was carrying was being smuggled and it was intercepted on Sunday, south of Iran's Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz.
Its tracker stopped transmitting its location as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz at the weekend.
The 190ft Riah was travelling from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 12 crew on board, although a UAE official denied it was operated by the country and no Emirati people were on board.
The official said at the time the ship did not transmit a distress call.
Iran's ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi has also been fuelling tensions, saying that anyone fuelling a US war against his country would "face the danger of war" and Iran was ready for "any kind of crisis" in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also threatened Britain with retaliation over the “vicious” seizure of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar.
As tensions escalate over the tanker row, it's been revealed that the Royal Navy is set to send a third warship to the Persian Gulf this summer.
An Iranian bomb boat was found in the path of a British warship racing to the Gulf just two days ago.
HMS Duncan could have been destroyed by the unmanned attack ship packed with explosives, according to reports.
The Royal Navy sent the ship out after Iranian troops tried to storm a BP oil tanker in a suspected revenge attack for the seizure of Grace 1 – an Iranian-owned oil tanker seized off Gibraltar by British Royal Marines earlier this month.
Last month Iran was accused of attacking tankers with mines, and it has said there would be "consequences" after Royal Marines boarded a supertanker suspected of taking crude oil to Syria.
HMS Duncan will patrol the busy shipping lane alongside HMS Montrose as all UK-flagged vessels were put on the highest security alert level over fears of further retaliation from Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Colonel Kemp, a former UK Armed Forces commander, had warned that while Grace 1 remained in custody in Gibraltar, Iran would continue to seek revenge and the Royal Navy needed to be prepared to respond.
The US said it was sending 500 troops to Saudi Arabia to counter the growing threat posed by Iran.
They will be deployed to a remote base east of the Saudi capital Riyadh, according to two US defence officials.
The move will fortify the growing Prince Sultan Air Base – which is being heavily built-up with a Patriot missile defence battery and an improved runway, CNN reported.
It's hoped that fifth-generation F-22 stealth jets and other fighters will be flown from the base to strike Iranian targets should war break out, the unnamed officials said.
US military chiefs believe the site is well protected from Iranian attack because of its remote desert location.
It comes amid feverish tensions between Iran and the West that has seen tense naval standoffs and attacks on oil supply routes.
But critics fear closer ties between the Trump administration and the brutal Saudi regime – which is widely considered responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The ongoing tensions in the region were initially sparked after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which was aimed at reducing Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons.
The deal saw Iran agree to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium by 98 per cent.
But Mr Trump withdrew US support in May saying it was a "horrible, one-sided deal".
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