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Iran: United Kingdom to Establish European-Led Maritime Protection Mission

By INU Staff

INU - Following the seizure of the British tanker in Omani waters on Friday, the United Kingdom held an emergency meeting yesterday with the COBRA committee to discuss how it would respond. It affirmed that safe navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, a key passage way for global trade, is a priority.

British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired the meeting of ministers and security officials. The country’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the British government will be working with European allies to guarantee maritime security.

The Foreign Secretary emphasised that Britain does not want confrontation with Iran and re-iterated his earlier claim that the country has taken “every available opportunity” to de-escalate the situation. He said the United Kingdom and its allies will “always defend” freedom of navigation.

He did not expand any further regarding the countries that would take part in the mission, but it is known that Hunt spoke to the French and German counterparts the previous day.

Hunt accused Iran of “an act of state piracy” emphasising that the IRGC seized the British vessel under pretences that can only be described as illegal. “Under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship's passage - let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy.”

Prime Minister May’s official spokesman also reiterated Iran’s illegal seizure of the vessel and said that the United Kingdom calls on Iran to release the vessel and its crew immediately.

The British government has been heavily criticised for shunning the United States’ offer to use assets to increase security and protection in the Gulf. The announcement that a European-led maritime protection mission is being established is another indication that the British government does not want to associate itself with Trump’s maximum pressure campaign.

However, it is precisely this reluctance to deal with the malign Iranian regime in a firm manner that is allowing the regime to continue wreaking havoc across the Middle East and now across the Gulf waters.

In response to the news from the United Kingdom, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the responsibility falls to the British government to guarantee the safety of their vessels in the region. He made no further reference to the offer of support from the United States.

President Trump’s counsellor Kellyanne Conway also spoke about the United States’ reaction to the recent events in the Gulf and stated that the White House is adamant that it is not going to let the Iranian regime continue with its malign behaviour.

Iran had announced that it has arrested a number of individuals that were recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and that several of them had been sentenced to death. Iran states that the individuals in question have been arrested during the past few months and that the reason for their arrest is espionage. An intelligence official for the regime said that they have been spying on the country’s military and nuclear sites.

President Trump’s response on Twitter: “The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”

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