US Military May Step in to Protect Oil Tankers

The U.S. military could be planning to provide assistance in guarding oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf in the wake of a persisting issue with the wake of alleged Iranian attempts to unlawfully confiscate shipping vessels in international waters.

The U.S. military sent additional F-16 and F-35 fighter jets and another warship to the Middle East in July after Iran’s repeated seizure and harassment of commercial shipping vessels in the region.

The Strait of Hormuz, which is in between Iran and Oman, was the site of controversy last month after Iran confiscated an oil tanker after it claimed it had an order from an Iranian court to do so. Additionally, the Biden administration announced in May that it would be making moves in the Gulf region, but not disclose where specifically.

One White House official, speaking anonymously with the Guardian, said that U.S. Marines were already being trained in the region to protect the shipping vessels, though it would ultimately be up to those vessels to request protection from available troops in the region, specifically regarding the particularly dangerous passage through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Strait of Hormuz continues to be of incredibly strategic importance for both the U.S. and other countries, as a fifth of the world’s crude oil supply passes through the strait every year. There have been several attacks on shipping vessels at times where tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been high. 

The news comes as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is effectively dead, leading to a subsequent decline of relations between the Middle Eastern country and the West. The deal as originally laid out, saw Iran agree to allow its nuclear program to be inspected, so as to ensure that Iran was not using its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons. In return for allowing inspectors into its nuclear facilities, the West would lift devastating economic sanctions on the country. The deal, however, fell apart when Iran stopped allowing inspectors into its nuclear facilities.