Bahrain Mirror- Reuters: Britain on Monday joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels travelling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.
British officials stressed that there was no change to London's policy on Iran but joining the United States is the most significant non-Brexit foreign policy move to date of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 12-day-old government.
"Our approach to Iran hasn't changed," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. "We remain committed to working with Iran and our international partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal."
A British source said the focus of the new mission would be protecting the security of shipping and Britain would not be joining U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Another British source said London hoped the U.S.-led mission would transition towards a European-led mission. The United Kingdom has also offered to lead one of the U.S.-led mission's maritime task groups.
Britain has deployed a destroyer HMS Duncan and a frigate HMS Montrose to the Gulf to accompany UK-flagged vessels through the strait. So far, 47 ships have been accompanied by the naval vessels, British officials said.
Earlier on Monday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would no longer tolerate "maritime offences" in the strait.
It has threatened to block all exports via the Strait, through which a fifth of global oil traffic passes, if other countries comply with U.S. pressure to stop buying Iranian oil.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday (August 5, 2019) reiterated that Germany would not join a U.S.-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, adding that Berlin favored a European mission but warned it was rather difficult to make progress on that.
"At the moment the Britons would rather join an American mission. We won't do that," Maas told reporters.
"We want a European mission," he said, adding that the issue was not off the agenda but it would take time to convince the European Union to carry out such a mission.
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday the United States had asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to protect shipping through the strait and "combat Iranian aggression". Germany rejected the request.