23:37 GMT22 February 2020
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    The crisis escalated last month when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that Tehran would proceed with reducing its obligations under the nuclear deal, stating that European countries must protect the Islamic Republic from US sanctions.

    According to Sky News, the United Kingdom is considering sending unmanned aircraft in order to assist Royal Navy warships escort UK-flagged tankers through the Strait of Hormuz.

    Reaper drones stationed in Kuwait and patrolling the airspace over Iraq and Syria could be re-tasked for this purpose, the broadcaster reported.

    Explaining London's stance on the matter, Commodore Dean Bassett told SkyNew that Iran poses a direct threat to British merchant vessels and noted that he wouldn't rule out the use of military force if necessary.

    Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1
    © REUTERS / Jon Nazca
    Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1

    At the moment, UK frigate the HMS Montrose is stationed in Bahrain and escorting British vessels in the area. The HMS Duncan has recently arrived to assist the Montrose, while two other warships - the HMS Kent and HMS Defender - are en route to join them.

    In mid-August, the UK joined a US-proposed Gulf coalition against an alleged Iranian threat in the region, formed after Islamic Revolutionary Guards seized a UK-flagged oil tanker called the Stena Impero, stating it had violated maritime rules by damaging an Iranian vessel and trying to escape the authorities.

    Before the incident, authorities in Gibraltar, supported by UK Marines, captured the Iranian tanker Grace 1 over an alleged breach of EU sanctions, which Tehran called an act of piracy. The ship was released later in August and is currently sailing under a new name, Adrian Darya.

    The US has also been using drones in the region, something which led to a conflict this past June, when Iranian forces downed an unmanned aircraft, stating that it had violated the border of the country. The American military, in turn, claimed that the drone was operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

    President Donald Trump said that after the incident, US forces had planned a retaliatory strike against the Islamic Republic, but that he stopped the operation 10 minutes before its start.



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    oil tanker, oil tanker, Drone, Royal Navy, British Royal Navy, United Kingdom, Iran
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