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13 July, 2019 12:57:50 AM
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US plans Gulf naval escorts after Iranians menace UK oil tanker

AFP, Washington
US plans Gulf naval escorts after Iranians menace UK oil tanker
The HMS Montrose, a Royal Navy frigate, was forced to train its guns on armed Iranian boats threatening a British oil tanker in the Gulf. AFP Photo

The Pentagon said Thursday it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf one day after armed Iranian boats threatened a British oil tanker.

The White House’s nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said Washington was attempting to put together a coalition “in terms of providing military escort, naval escort to commercial shipping.”

“I think that that will be developing over the next couple weeks,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Tensions in the Gulf have increased in the past few weeks, with Iran’s economy in free fall following the re-imposition of US sanctions after President Donald Trump pulled out from a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

The rapid chain of events further complicates Britain and other European allies’ efforts to salvage the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement despite the US withdrawal.

Milley’s statement came after London accused Tehran on Thursday of deploying three military vessels to “impede the passage” of a 274-meter (899-foot) BP tanker, the British Heritage.

“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

Iran’s menacing of the BP supertanker on Wednesday appeared to be in retaliation for Britain’s seizure of the Iranian Grace 1 tanker off Gibraltar on July 4.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied involvement in the British Heritage incident but said the United States and Britain would “strongly regret” British detention of the fully-loaded Iranian tanker off Gibraltar for violating sanctions on Syria, allegedly the planned recipient of its cargo.

Washington and Riyadh previously blamed Iran for allegedly using limpet mines to blow holes in Gulf-area ships in May and June, and Trump came close to ordering an attack on Iran in retaliation.

Officials in Britain and France would not confirm the discussions on a tanker escort operation.

EA

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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