Tehran : IRAN has seized a foreign oil tanker in Lark Island in the Gulf, as tensions between the Middle Eastern nation and the West continue to surge. 

The tanker’s 12 man crew have all been arrested. It is unknown which country’s flag the seized vessel was flying. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on TV: “A foreign vessel smuggling one million litres of fuel in the Lark Island of the Persian Gulf has been seized. 

The report says the tanker was smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers and was intercepted south of Iran’s Larak Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The guards have confirmed the seized vessel was the same one it towed on Sunday after it sent a distress call. 

In a statement quoted by state TV, they said: “The vessel that Iran towed to its waters after receiving a distress call, was later seized with the order from the court as we found out that it was smuggling fuel.”

The guards said they had not seized any other ship in the Gulf.

Last week, an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) disappeared off trackers in the Iranian national waters.

The crew of the vessel have not contacted their base in the UAE since July 13, local media reports.

The ship disappeared from radars while sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

US officials yesterday raised fear for a small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates which was travelling through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran media said it was helping tanker with a malfunction but did not release any more information.

Previously, oil tankers have been targeted in the wider region, amid growing tensions between the US and Iran over its unraveling nucelar deal with world powers.

These attacks on oil tankers and Iran shooting down a US military surveillance drone has fuelled fears of an armed conflict breaking out.

Earlier this week HMS Duncan was put on high alert after an Iranian “bomb boat” was spotted in its path.

The remote-controlled Blowfish loaded with explosives was located by Saudi forces in the Red Sea, close to where the heavily-armed warship was sailing.

In response,  Britain is sending third warship to the Persian gulf, as tensions heat up.