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British Navy resuming ship boardings in Gulf

Defense Secretary Des Browne has forbade Britain's Royal Navy to board ships in the Gulf, after suspending such operations when 15 sailors and marines were taken prisoner by Iran

Browne announced the decision in a statement to the House of Commons.

The British sailors and marines had just finished searching a merchant ship on March 23 when they and their two inflatable boats were intercepted by Iranian vessels near the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway.

Iran claimed the British had strayed into its territorial waters, a charge that Britain denied.

"Pending the results of the inquiries set up to identify any lessons we can learn from this incident, we have taken measures, in line with the findings of the initial reviews of procedures, to ensure the risk to boarding operations is minimized," Browne said in his statement.

"This will involve an incremental return to full boarding operations in all areas," he said.