This Monday, July 22, 2019 Maxar Technologies shows a close up of British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero at the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Wednesday, July 24, that Iran might release the U.K.-flagged ship if Britain takes similar steps to release an Iranian oil tanker seized by the British Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month. His remarks could create an opening to reduce tensions as Boris Johnson becomes prime minister. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)

The Latest: Royal Navy warship sent to protect Gulf shipping

July 28, 2019 - 4:19 am

VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf and over the 2015 Iran nuclear accord (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

A Royal Navy warship has arrived in the Persian Gulf to accompany British-flagged ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, amid tensions after Iran seized a British tanker this month.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the HMS Duncan will join the Frigate HMS Montrose in the Gulf to defend freedom of navigation.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Royal Navy will escort U.K. vessels until a diplomatic resolution is found to secure the route again.

The British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker was seized in the Strait of Hormuz a week ago. Some senior Iranian officials have suggested the ship was seized in retaliation for the British navy's role in seizing an Iranian supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar for violations of EU sanctions on oil sales to Syria.

The Strait of Hormuz links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and is a vital waterway for oil tankers.

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10 a.m.

Representatives from Europe, China and Russia, nations that are still committed to the Iran nuclear deal, are meeting with Iran's representative in Vienna on Sunday to discuss how to salvage the unraveling accord.

The diplomats aim to examine issues linked to the implementation of the nuclear accord after Iran surpassed stockpile and enrichment limits set out in the deal.

Iran recently begun surpassing uranium enrichment limits in the 2015 nuclear deal, saying these moves can be reversed if the other parties to the agreement — Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union — come up with enough economic incentives to offset the U.S. sanctions that President Donald Trump reinstated after pulling his country from the nuclear accord.

Experts warn that higher enrichment and a growing stockpile narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material to make an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.