Washington / Helsinki (AP) - The US-led military mission to protect shipping on the Strait of Hormuz is already well underway, according to the Department of Defense.
In addition to the US military are also involved forces from Britain, Australia and Bahrain, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday. The US is also in conversation with several other countries and expected that more states would join the mission called Operation Sentinel, Esper said. The latest developments in the Iran crisis will also be discussed at a Foreign Ministers meeting in Helsinki on Thursday.
Esper said that the goal is to guarantee free shipping in the strait that is important for global trade. In addition, it is about "to prevent provocation and to avoid a conflict in the region," said Esper. The US did not want a conflict with Iran, the minister stressed. Initially, the minister did not specify how many ships and soldiers were involved in the mission. Britain had initially sent two warships.
The conflict between Iran and the US had dramatically worsened the security situation in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The federal government had rejected a request from Washington to participate in the US mission and instead promoted a separate European Union observer mission. Many US states do not want to join the US security mission because they fear that it could cause further tensions with Iran.
In the past few weeks, there had always been some sticky situations in the Strait of Hormuz. The US blamed Iran for various attacks on merchant ships in the sea area, leading the Tehran leadership.
Behind the tensions between Iran and the US is the nuclear dispute between the two countries. The Americans accuse the Iranian leadership of wanting to build nuclear weapons. Tehran rejects this.
The meeting of foreign ministers in the Finnish capital Helsinki will address the question of whether and, if so, the European Union should participate in international efforts to secure maritime transport in the Strait of Hormuz. In addition, the rescue attempts for the international agreement to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb will again be a topic.
The United States had left the international nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 in isolation to force the country to change course in what was considered an aggressive foreign policy. However, the reintroduction of economic sanctions has so far only fueled tensions - with the result, among other things, that shipping traffic through the Iranian-Oman Strait road is no longer safe from Hormuz.