Washington: The Pentagon yesterday said it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf 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,” he said.
“I think that will be developing over the next couple weeks,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His statement came after London accused Tehran of deploying three military vessels to “impede the passage” of a 274-metre BP tanker, the British Heritage.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied involvement but also warned both the US and Britain that they would “strongly regret” the British detention of a fully-loaded Iranian tanker off Gibraltar last week for allegedly violating sanctions on the Is
Officials in Britain and France would not confirm the discussions on a tanker escort operation.
The US, Britain and France all maintain a naval presence in the Gulf.
British media reported that the possible deployment of more Royal Navy ships to the region was “being looked at” in government meetings in the aftermath of the newest incident.
But in France, a government official said that they were not planning for the moment to expand their presence in the Gulf.