Friday, May 24, 2024

Iran says it is strong enough to defend regional waters

(Al Jazeera Media Network) Iran has said it is fully capable of securing regional waters in co-operation with other regional actors after a move by western allies in the strategic Strait of Hormuz that Tehran called “theatrical”.

The comment came on Sunday as Iranian officials held a ceremony near the country’s southern waters to welcome back two Iranian warships after an eight-month trip around the world.

Two days earlier, the Middle East-based navy commanders of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States toured the Strait of Hormuz on the USS Paul Hamilton in a show of unity against Iran and to indicate oversight of the safety of ships traversing the waterway, through which a fifth of global oil supplies pass.

Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said western countries need to explain what they are doing in the Strait of Hormuz, thousands of kilometres away from their territorial waters.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran and the countries south of the Persian Gulf are capable of co-operating to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Sea of Oman,” Bagheri said in a news conference.

“We have no need for foreigners to ensure the security of regional waters, which are currently secured by our navy men of the army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who oversees the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said during the trip around Hormuz that Iran has seized eight ships and attacked seven more during the past two years. IRGC fast boats reportedly watched the Paul Hamilton from a distance of less than 1km (0.5 nautical miles).

Iran has seized two oil tankers in regional waters in the past month, saying one was stopped in compliance with a judicial order while another was “fleeing” the region after hitting an Iranian vessel when it was diverted toward an Iranian port.

The U.S. has called the seizures “unlawful” as tensions between the two countries have remained high amid stalled efforts to restore Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

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