The United States defence officials say US Navy warships will accompany country's commercial vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a cargo ship two days ago.
Although the US has military vessels in the Arabian Sea already, the decision will mean increased US military presence in the waters dividing Iran and Oman, as warship trail commercial vessels passing through the strait. Defence officials say the decision is temporary and not all the ships will be accompanied.
A Marshall Islands-flagged container ship, Maersk Tigris, was detained by Iranians while passing through the street, and a US-flagged ship, Maersk Kensington, was followed by Iranian ships on April 24, which Pentagon described as “harassment."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said: “Simply, our naval forces implemented the decision of the court,” regarding the Iranian action. The ship had 24 crew members on board, mostly from Eastern Europe and Asia, and also a British national.
The incident comes at a critical time when Iran and six world powers including the US are trying to finalise a tentative agreement before June 30 to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
The tension between Iran and the US has recently been rising as the two countries are supporting opposing sides in the ongoing Yemen conflict. The ship is operated by Maersk, the world's biggest container shipping line, who says they learned from Iranian officials that an “appeal court has ruled Maersk Line to pay $3.6 million,” regarding an earlier dispute and ask them to pay the fine for Iran to release the ship.
Iranian Embassy in Copenhagen says Danish Embassy in Tehran had been informed of the case as it progressed. "Naturally the ship will be released after settlements of debts by Maersk Shipping Line and will be allowed to sail to its final destination," the statement said.