New footage from Iranian media channel FARS News Agency shows the moment Iran's Revolutionary Guards boarded United Kingdom tanker ship Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for "violating worldwide maritime rules". Iranian authorities said the tanker has anchored off Bandar Abbas with all its 23 crew aboard.
That came hours after a court in Gibraltar said it would extend by 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker seized by British authorities two weeks ago on allegations of breaching European Union sanctions against Syria.
Stena Bulk said the ship was "in full compliance with all navigation and worldwide regulations". "We are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve this situation", said British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else", said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on his Twitter account.
The seizure was a "dangerous further aggravation of an already tense situation", a foreign ministry statement said.
Hunt said on Saturday that Britain would ensure the safety of its shipping, and that there were signs that Iran "may be choosing a risky path of illegal and destabilising behaviour after Gibraltar's legal detention of oil bound for Syria".
"All drones belonging to Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz ... returned safely to their bases after their mission of identification and control", Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior Iranian armed forces spokesman, was quoted by Tasnim as saying.
Britain's Chamber of Shipping leader Bob Sanguinetti said the seizure represented an increase in tensions in the Persian Gulf.
He tweeted: 'Just spoke to Iranian FM Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Sat Iran wanted to de-escalate situation they have behaved in the opposite way.
Gen. Rabbani said the advanced drone took off from a USA base in Kuwait on May 26 and flew about 20 hours near Iran's airspace.
The precise timing may have been a coincidence, but it's a fact that Iran took action against the Stena Impero only hours after the government of Gibraltar - a British overseas territory - said it would continue to hold the Iranian tanker and its precious crude oil cargo, rejecting Iran's demands for its immediate return.
Mr Trump said the USS Boxer "took defensive action" against the Iranian aircraft as it was "threatening the safety" of the navy amphibious assault ship and its crew early on Thursday. They comprised 18 Indians and five others of other nationalities, he said. Both Manila and New Delhi said they had contacted Tehran to seek their nationals' release.
Algeria's state-run news agency APS, quoting Sonatrach, said Saturday the empty tanker "MESDAR" was forced into Iranian waters Friday night as it moved through the Strait of Hormuz.
In a statement the company said the vessel had been approached by an unidentified small craft and a helicopter during transit of Strait of Hormuz while it was in global waters.
"That's the type of concept we're trying to envision, DOD, throughout the Strait so we don't get into a military fight", he said.
Revolutionary Guards issued similarly direct threats. It did not say what prompted the Iranians to intercept the ship or whether the vessel was inspected.
The Pentagon has said U.S. troops are being deployed to Saudi Arabia to defend American interests in the region from "emergent credible threats".
The current tensions between Iran and the West have been escalating since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. a year ago from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran with world powers and imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports.