UK highlights Gulf shipping threats
The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is to call for more international support to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz when he meets his French and German counterparts later today (Friday, August 31) for talks about Iran. Last month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait in apparent retaliation for the UK’s seizure in Gibraltar of an Iranian ship accused of violating European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
The UK joined a U.S.-led mission to escort merchant vessels through the Strait of Hormuz at the start of this month but Germany and France declined to take part, fearing that such action could increase the chance of open conflict with Iran.
“We...need the broadest international support possible to tackle the threats to international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz,” stated Raab before attending a meeting of European foreign ministers in Helsinki, Finland.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a possible separate European maritime defense operation would be discussed in Helsinki, however the German foreign minister Heiko Maas had previously acknowledged that this would be slow to get off the ground. French defense minister Florence Parly told AFP on Thursday that she would back an EU-led “dissuasive presence”.
Last week, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said that international waterways would be less secure if Iranian oil exports faced complete sanctions.
Raab restated the UK’s commitment, with Germany and France, to a 2015 nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of last year, reimposing sanctions on Iran:
“The nuclear deal is the only deal on the table that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and we will continue working together to encourage Iran to uphold the agreement in full,” he said.
The 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers, which was reached under former U.S. President Barack Obama, aimed to limit Iran’s disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on the country. President Trump said on Monday at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, that he might be willing to meet Rouhani in the coming weeks to end confrontation over the deal. (Source: Reuters)