The Pentagon yesterday said 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.
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.
Britain yesterday said it will send a second warship to the Gulf, temporarily deploying two vessels near Tehran’s waters to ensure a continued British naval presence in one of the most important but volatile oil shipping routes in the world.