U.S. and European allies will cooperate to protect international shipping from threats posed by Iran, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I am confident that we will all form a collective defense,” he told conservative radio host Ben Shapiro. “The United States is calling it our maritime security initiative, and we have asked countries from all across the world to participate in that to assist in the defense of the waterways through the Gulf and through the Straits of Hormuz.”
Western powers have been developing plans to escort vessels through the vital shipping lanes since last week, when Iranian forces seized a British-flagged tanker in apparent retaliation for the detention of an Iranian tanker that was ferrying oil to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime. The prospect of a Western armada has drawn complaints from Iran, which test-fired a ballistic missile Thursday.
“My guess is that the Iranians will continue to try and impose costs on us, but I don’t think anyone should ever mistake the United States for having an absence of resolve under President Trump,” Pompeo said Thursday. “We are effectively and continuing to put increased pressure on Qasem Soleimani and the IRGC, his forces, as well as on the ayatollah.”
Iran has complained about the escorts, notably threatening “consequences” in response to the U.K.’s announcement of a plan to coordinate with other European nations to protect the shipping lanes.
“The U.K.’s proposal for a European force in the Strait of Hormuz could lead to unpredictable consequences [for London],” a military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s clerical autocrat, said Wednesday in state-run media. “Our equation in the Strait of Hormuz is that either everyone enjoys full security or no one does.”
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