Pentagon has discussed its military escorts for vessels in Gulf, a day after Iranian ships allegedly tried to block a United Kingdom oil tanker near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Friday.
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 increased in the past few weeks, with Iran’s economy in free fall following the re-imposition of US sanctions after US President Donald Trump pulled out from a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
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.
Downing Street spokesman said, “We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,”
On Tuesday, Marine General Joseph Dunford, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said the US was working to enlist allies in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen.
US President Donald Trump had also called off a military strike against Iran in retaliation to the downing of an American military drone by Tehran last month.
Earlier in June, two oil tankers were hit in the Gulf of Oman, which the US had accused to be carried out by Iran. Donald Trump had also described Iran as a “nation of terror”.
According to reports, the tankers were struck in the same area where the US accused Iran of using naval mines to sabotage four other oil ships in an attack last month.
However, Iran has dismissed all allegations in the attack on the two oil tankers, calling them ‘baseless’.