The US National Security Council (NSC) announced on Friday that Washington will boost its military presence in the Arabian Gulf to face off Iran’s seizures of merchant tankers, news agencies reported.
“Today, the Department of Defense will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the Arabian Gulf,” NSC spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
The strategic waterway of Hormuz, which separates Iran on the north from Oman and the United Arab Emirates on the south, has been the site of repeated tense exchanges between the US and Iranian navies.
On 3 May, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker in the strategic waterway, less than a week after seizing Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Niovi.
The US Navy said the increased aircraft and ship patrols would be conducted alongside regional allies and partners and bolster: “Multinational efforts to deter threats to commercial shipping and reassure regional mariners.”
“Iran’s unwarranted, irresponsible and unlawful seizure and harassment of merchant vessels must stop,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, conveyed in a statement.
According to Anadolu Agency, the statement added: “US 5th Fleet and our partners are committed to protecting navigational rights in these critical waters.”
Iran “harassed, attacked or interfered with” 15 internationally-flagged merchant ships within the past two years, according to the Navy’s tally.
The statement also indicated the actions are: “Contrary to international law and disruptive to regional security.”