U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed on Monday that the United States will keep the Strait of Hormuz open to maritime traffic amid increasing tensions with Iran, which has repeatedly rejected U.S. overtures to come to the negotiating table.
“We are gonna keep it open,” said Pompeo at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. “We are going to build up a maritime security plan. Countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate.”
Since the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions lifted under it alongside enacting new financial penalties against Iran, the regime’s activities in the Strait of Hormuz have included attacking oil tankers from numerous countries to shooting down a U.S. drone in June.
U.S. President Donald Trump called off retaliatory strikes against Iran for that action, saying that such a response was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Nonetheless, the United States conducted a cyber-attack against Iran.
Trump confirmed a few weeks ago that the USS Boxer, a U.S. Navy ship, “immediately destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. (CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told CBS News on Tuesday that the ship may have shot down two drones.)
The United States has sought the help of other nations, including Germany, to protect the Strait of Hormuz.
A source in Germany’s Foreign Ministry told Radio Farda that the United States “recently presented its concept for a maritime surveillance mission … to a number of allies, including Germany, and asked for contributions.”
“The German government has taken note of this, but not promised to make any contribution,” said the source.
Officials in Oman have been in contact with “all parties” to restore calm in the area, said Omani Foreign Minister Yousef Bin Alawi on Sunday following talks with Iranian officials in Tehran. “We have a responsibility when it comes to the Strait of Hormuz.”
The United States, Great Britain and other allies will meet on Wednesday in Bahrain to discuss forming a coalition, with the United Kingdom possibly in a leading position, to protect the Persian Gulf, reported Sky News.
Tehran has repeatedly rejected Washington’s offers, with no preconditions, to negotiate.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said Monday the United States is “not seeking dialogue.”
The Islamic Republic apparently also rejected Pompeo’s offer to address Iranians themselves.
“I recently offered to travel to Tehran and speak directly to the Iranian people. The regime hasn’t accepted my offer,” tweeted the secretary of state on Sunday.
Finally, the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement met in Vienna on Sunday and committed to salvaging the deal.