LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) – Britain’s Royal Navy said on Thursday it had seized Iranian weapons, including anti-tank guided missiles, last month from a smugglers vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman.
Britain said the vessel was detected travelling south from Iran at high speed during the hours of darkness by an unmanned U.S. intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance plane, and was also tracked by a British helicopter.
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When hailed by the Royal Navy, the vessel initially attempted to navigate to Iranian territorial waters but was stopped by a team of Royal Marines, who then boarded the small boat and recovered the suspicious packages, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.
“This seizure by HMS Lancaster and the permanent presence of the Royal Navy in the Persian Gulf region supports our commitment to uphold international law and tackle activity that threatens peace and security around the world,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.
Initial inspection suggested the packages included Iranian anti-tank guided missiles and medium-range ballistic missile components, Britain said, adding that it had informed the United Nations about the seizure.
It follows two previous Royal Navy seizures of Iranian weapons in the region early last year.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Toby Chopra)