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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Strait of Hormuz’

Iran Tests US Resolve, Forces Maersk Vessel to Coastal Waters

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Iran appears to be testing the resolve of the United States and President Barack Obama in its latest adventure with a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. forces operating in the region heard and responded to the distress call sent by the M/S Maersk Tigris, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, during a confrontation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Marshall Islands are under a defense treaty with the United States; the U.S. is obligated to come to the defense of that nation should it be attacked.

The Iranian forces contacted the master of the cargo ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, ordering him to divert to Iranian waters. When he refused, the Iranian vessel fired warning shots across the bow of the Danish ship. IRGC forces then boarded the ship and guided it towards southern Iran.

By the time the U.S.S. Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer reached the location – more than 60 miles away at the start of the distress call – the Maersk was heading to Iran.

Apparently under Admiralty law, a commercial firm is allowed to go to court and obtain a court order to seize a ship to satisfy a debt, according to retired U.S. Navy captain and Fox News military analyst Chuck Nash.

Nash told Fox News journalist Gretchen Carlson on Wednesday that an Iranian company did just that about 10 or 12 years ago, after cargo that was to be shipped with a Maersk vessel never arrived.

Last Friday, four Iranian ships also dogged the heels of a Maersk ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz. But that vessel was sailing under the flag of the United States of America, and eventually the Iranians abandoned their pursuit.

This week the targeted Maersk vessel was flagged under the Marshall Islands, which clearly emboldened its pursuers.

“The U.S. is under no obligation” to do [anything to defend the vessel] in the maritime realm, Nash explained. He pointed out the treaty with the Marshall Islands is a “clear spoken defense agreement should they be attacked” – on land.

The U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense has confirmed the above facts, saying the shipping company told U.S. Central Command that the Iran Navy “contacted the vessel and directed the Maersk Tigris’s master to divert further, into Iranian waters.” He added: “The master initially declined and one of the IRGC patrol craft fired shots across the Maersk Tigris’s bow. The master then complied and diverted under escort by the IRGC vessels.”

The Maersk issued a distress call when the shots were fired. The U.S.S. Farragut received that call and immediately launched a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the situation, and itself headed to site, he added.

The real questions now are:

  • What is the status of the MaerskTigris, forced to a southern Iranian port city by Iranian forces?
  • Where are the 34 sailors who were aboard the Maersk and what is their condition? Are they now hostages of Iran?
  • Who has the obligation to rescue the crew of the Maersk? Who will ensure their safety?
  • How will the United States consider this situation as it continues to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear development activities?

It’s important not to forget that Iran continues to hold U.S. citizens hostage, even as Secretary of State John Kerry carries on his nuclear development negotiations with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. They are:

  • Saeed Abedini, 34, of Idaho, arrested during a 2012 trip to Tehran to visit family and sentenced to eight years in prison. Married father of two;
  • Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent seized by Iranian intelligence in 2007 as he was investigating a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island, an Iranian free-trade zone — the longest-held hostage in Iranian custody, assuming he is still alive;
  • Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine arrested and charged with espionage in 2011 while visiting family in Tehran; and
  • Jason Rezaian, the bureau chief for The Washington Post in Tehran, arrested in July 2014 on undisclosed “security-related offenses.” In January 2015 an Iranian prosecutor revealed Rezaian would be tried in a revolutionary court by one of the country’s most notorious hanging judges.
  • It is important to remember the names and circumstances of each of the hostages and to remind each candidate who stands for office as elections approach in 2016.

Hana Levi Julian

US Sends Destroyer to Persian Gulf after Iran Boards Freighter

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

The U.S. Navy Farragut destroyer is speeding to the Persian Gulf Wednesday after Iran boarded a Marshall Islands-flagged freighter that the regime said had trespassed into its waters while sailing through the key oil and gas tanker route of the Straits of Hormuz, also known as the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Navy fired shots at the ship, which the Pentagon says was in international waters.

The United States also has ordered an aircraft carrier to remain on standby in another mini-crisis that Iran seems to have created to put pressure on the Obama administration during the new round of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran on an agreement to allow Tehran to continue its nuclear development program.

The Marshall Islands, once an American territory, is independent of the United States but has a “free relationship” with Washington that includes a security pact.

A spokesman for the Maersk shipping company said that the vessel charted by Rickers Shipmanagment was in international waters and was sailing from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with cargo that could range from  “anything from food to machinery to electronics,” he said.

Rickers spokesman Cor Radings wrote in an e-mail to The New York Times he does not know of any previous incident of Iran seizing a ship in open seas. He stated, “I cannot exclude it has happened before, but would believe we have to go back” to World War II.

Last week, Iran caved into American and Western pressure and turned back one of its ships that was approaching Aden, Yemen with a cargo of what was assumed to be weapons for Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Jeff Rathke, the State Dept.’s tight-lipped spokesman, told reporters Tuesday:

It’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe… We remain committed to our regional partners and to maintaining security in the maritime environment.

So what is the United States going to do about it, especially since the United States has what Rathke called a “security compact” with the Marshall Islands?

“Is the U.S. prepared to use force to defend the Marshall Islands?” one reporter asked.

Rathke answered,” “Well, I think that’s premature to jump to that conclusion.”

And did Iran commit an act of piracy or aggression?

Rathke:  “I’m not going to apply an adjective to it right now. We are following the situation very carefully, but I’m not going to label it.

Well, does the United States condemn it?

Rathke:” Well, again, we’re gathering more information. I don’t have a further reaction at this point.

But what about the security compact that Rathke said “gives the U.S. authority and responsibility for security and defense matters that relate to the Marshall Islands, including matters related to vessels flying the Marshallese flag?”

Well, he says, “Certainly, that’s something we’re looking at.”

And could it be, just possibly by a stretch of the imagination, that Iran the seizure and previous threats from Iran to block the Persian Gulf are linked to the proposed nuclear negotiations?

Rathke, of course, “is not going to speculate on what their motives might be.

In case you missed it, Kerry said yesterday:

We are, in fact, closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer.

If finalized and implemented, (an agreement) will close off all of Iran’s possible pathways to the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon and give the international community the confidence that it needs to know that Iran’s nuclear program is indeed exclusively peaceful.

And if the United States does not agree, Iran will close the Persian Gulf and raise the price of oil as part of its program to make the entire safer.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Iran Seizes Cargo Ship Under US Protection in Strait of Hormuz

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Iranian naval forces have seized a commercial cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz and are redirecting the vessel to southern Iran, FARS news service reported late Monday.

The ship, the M/V Maersk Tigris, is a Danish vessel flying under the flag of the Marshall Islands. The United States has full authority and responsibility under treaty for the security and defense of the Marshall Islands.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces intercepted the vessel as it was crossing the waterway on Tuesday morning, according to a senior U.S. military official quoted by CNN. A separate source said shots were fired at the vessel; it was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured on the ship. There are no Americans aboard.

However, the 34 sailors on the vessel are now allegedly heading for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, according to Al-Arabiya.

Both Iran and the United States have been tight-lipped about the incident thus far. The U.S. Fifth Fleet off the coast of Bahrain had no comment, Reuters reported. Iranian media refused to officially confirm the report.

Iranian officials claim the ship was “trespassing” in the Persian Gulf.

A U.S. official told Reuters there have been no indications that any American vessel is being directed by Iranian forces. The official added the U.S. is still working to clarify the situation.

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Iran Planning Massive Oil Spill in Strait of Hormuz

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Iran may purposefully contaminate the waters of the Strait of Hormuz by performing an oil spill, according to a report in the German weekly Der Spiegel on Sunday.

The plan, codenamed “Murky Waters”, would block oil shipping routes in the Gulf. It would also drive up oil prices and force the west into an emergency cleanup in cooperation with Iran, which would likely reduce sanctions on the country.

The decision whether to implement the plan rests with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  It is the brain child of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander General Mohammed Ali Jafari and Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi.

Malkah Fleisher

Iran Prepared to Take Military Action Over Disputed Gulf Island

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

AP reports that the Iranian army is prepared for a military confrontation with the United Arab Emirates should diplomacy over a disputed gulf island fail.

“We do not allow any country to carry out an invasion,” ground forces commander Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told Iranian state television. “If these disturbances are not solved through diplomacy, the military forces are ready to show the power of Iran to the offender. Iran will strongly defend its right.”

The Abu Musa island in the Persian Gulf is controlled by Iran, but the UAE disputes Iranian sovereignty. The island is situated at the entryway to the Strait of Hormuz, which is of critical strategic importance due to the fact that almost one-fifth of the global oil supply passes through it.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait should it be attacked.


Jewish Press News Briefs

Report: Iranian Retaliation Will Be Multi-Pronged Attack on Israeli, Jewish Targets

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The New York Times quoted an anonymous former senior Israeli official on Wednesday as saying that Iranian retaliation against an Israeli military strike would best be described through a formula he termed “1991 plus 2006 plus Buenos Aires, times 3 or 5.” That is, Iran’s response would be the functional equivalent of Iraq’s scud missile attack on Israel in the 1991 Gulf War, the 3000+ Hizbollah rockets fired on Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and the terror attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, multiplied in scale at least three times.

“Forty missiles fired at Israel are no small matter – but it’s better that a nuclear Iran,” the ex-official said.

This evaluation is premised on the notion that Iran would seek to avoid an all-out regional war, and suffice with a pointed yet limited retaliation. Recent comments by the US Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff notwithstanding, this is a shaky premise, and US defense experts concede as much.

The report went on to say that the Pentagon believes that attacking Iran would serve as a pretext for Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz, and would also result in a missile salvo on Israel regardless of whether it was responsible. Iran would be cautious with respect to American interests and targets, knowing that the US has the wherewithal to permanently incapacitate its nuclear program.

In related news, the US Air Force Chief of Staff sought to allay speculation that the US has precluded the military option against Iran by telling reporters Wednesday that the US has drafted military plans to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, according to the Bloomberg News Agency.

General Norton Schwartz was also reported to have said “What we can do, you wouldn’t want to be in the area.”

Bloomberg also quoted Pentagon officials, who delved into specifics but spoke on condition of anonymity since the plans are confidential. The military contingencies that have been prepared include providing aerial refueling for Israeli jets, launching attacks against the Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Quds Force, as well as regular Iranian military bases.

These comments appear to be the latest missives in the Obama Administration’s attempt to beef up its image as tough on Iran. There have been reports of Israeli displeasure with what they perceive as an official administration line downplaying the chances of a military strike, and in the process diminishing the West’s deterrent power.

Rafi Harkham

Iranian Officials Again Threaten Closure of Strait of Hormuz

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Two Iranian officials on Monday reiterated threats that their country would block the Strait of Hormuz, in retaliation for oil sanctions on the Islamic theocracy.

The remarks were made in anticipation of the EU decision to institute an oil embargo on Iran.

A day earlier, US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz without incident. Iran appeared to be lowering the rhetoric in light of comments by a senior Revolutionary Guard Corps official acknowledging that the return of US carriers was “routine”.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iranian-officials-again-threaten-closure-of-strait-of-hormuz/2012/01/23/

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