Merkel: Europeans to Discuss Strait of Hormuz Naval Mission
German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed that European defense ministers at a meeting later this month in Finland would discuss the prospect of forming a naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz. The announcement comes after Britain last week joined the United States in a maritime security operation in the Gulf meant to ensure freedom of navigation in vital waterways. That, in turn, came after Iranian forces seized a British-flagged tanker – the Stena Impero – in addition to two others in the Strait of Hormuz, through which about one-third of the global oil supply transits. Germany’s foreign minister previously ruled out the possibility of joining the US-led mission but left the door open for the formation of a European one. Britain, France and Germany – the remaining European parties to the Iran nuclear deal – have found themselves stuck between a rock and hard place following the Islamic Republic’s recent alleged attacks on six vessels in the Gulf. The three countries nevertheless remain committed to salvaging the 2015 multilateral accord through the formation of a complex financial mechanism – known as INSTEX – that would effectively bypass US economic sanctions by allowing for continued non-dollar trade with the Iranian regime. US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year and has since threatened Iran with military retaliation.