Iran

Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET

President Trump said Iran's claim that it has captured 17 people spying for the U.S. is "totally false," as tensions continue to ratchet up between the two nations after the U.S. said it downed an Iranian drone last week.

It comes on the same day that U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said his country will seek to create a European-led security mission for ships in the Strait of Hormuz, separate from a similar U.S. effort to form a maritime coalition.

Updated at 3:20 a.m. Monday

The United Kingdom is trying to defuse an escalating standoff with Iran just days before Britain's ruling Conservative Party announces the successor to Theresa May, who is resigning.

Some 160,000 members of the Tory Party have until today to return their ballots selecting a new leader. The winner, to be announced on Tuesday, is expected to be Boris Johnson.

Updated at 11:58 p.m. ET

The U.K. Foreign Office is summoning the Iranian charge d'affaires following Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

Updated on July 20 at 4:11 a.m. ET

British media outlets say the government is warning ships to stay away from the area after Iran's military apparently seized the U.K.-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz near Iran's coast on Friday.

Iran would commit to permanent nuclear inspections in exchange for a permanent lifting of U.S. sanctions, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told NPR's Steve Inskeep on Thursday.

"We can do it right now in order to make sure that people can be at ease that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons ... in exchange for a permanent lifting of sanctions ratified by U.S. Congress, exactly as envisaged for 2023. We can do it now," Zarif said. He was in the U.S. to attend a United Nations meeting.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

The USS Boxer used electronic measures to take down a drone that the U.S. says was operated by Iran's military, according to Pentagon sources familiar with the situation. The Navy says the drone was destroyed in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday after it came close to the vessel and repeated warnings went unheeded.

Iran has disputed the U.S. claims, saying that all of its drones are accounted for — and suggesting the U.S. ship might have accidentally taken down one of its own military drones.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET on Friday

A U.S. Navy warship called the USS Boxer took down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, President Trump said, adding, "The drone was immediately destroyed." A senior Iranian official has denied that the country lost a drone.

"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone," Trump said, giving details about the encounter at the start of a flag presentation ceremony at the White House. He said the drone had closed to about 1,000 yards from the U.S. ship, "ignoring multiple calls to stand down."

Iran says that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy has seized a foreign-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, alleging that the ship was smuggling 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel. Iranian state news outlets report that the ship had a crew of 12 aboard.

The vessel was seized south of Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. The island sits less than 20 miles off the Iranian mainland, south of the city of Bandar Abbas.

Tensions are once again rising in the Strait of Hormuz, after the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense said three Iranian ships tried to block the passage of a British oil tanker and a British naval vessel had to intervene.

Iranian officials, however, denied that any such incident occurred.

The U.K. ministry said in a statement that on Wednesday, "HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away."

Updated on Monday at 12:40 p.m. ET

Iran has crossed another line set in the 2015 nuclear deal between it and major world powers.

According to state media, Iran has begun enriching uranium above levels enshrined in the agreement. The move sends a signal that Iran is losing patience with a deal that has not provided the economic relief promised, more than a year after the United States withdrew from the agreement.

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