DENMARK BACKS HORMUZ BRITAIN … OMAN IN IRAN TALKS
DUBAI, July 27, (Agencies): Iran said on Saturday missile tests were part of its defensive needs and were not directed against any country, after Washington said Tehran had test-fired a medium-range missile. A US defence official said Iran tested what appeared to be a medium-range ballistic missile on Wednesday that travelled about 1,000 kms (620 miles), adding that the test did not pose a threat to shipping or US personnel in the region.
“An informed source at the armed forces staff said Iran’s missile tests are natural within its defensive needs. This missile capacity is not against any country, and only aims to respond to possible aggression,” Iranian news agencies reported. “Iran does not need the permission of any power in the world for its self-defence,” the reports quoted the military source as saying.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme last year and stepped up sanctions on Tehran
He said the nuclear deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Iran has ruled out talks with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly the missile programme that it says is defensive. It denies the missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads and says its nuclear programme is peaceful.
Denmark said on Friday it welcomed a British government proposal for a Europeanled naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and would consider a military maritime contribution. Britain has sought to assemble the mission in Hormuz, used by tankers carrying about a fifth of the world’s oil, following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged ship in what London said was an act of “state piracy”.
The initiative won initial support from Denmark, France and Italy, three senior diplomats said on Tuesday. “The Danish government looks positively towards a possible contribution to such initiative,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement. “The initiative will have a strong European footprint”.
The backing contrasts with a lukewarm response shown by European allies to a similar American call first voiced at NATO in late June, which was resisted by France and Germany. They worried the US-led military alliance would be dragged into a possible confrontation with Iran.
EU-member Denmark is among the world’s biggest seafaring nations and home to the world’s biggest container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk, which sails in the high-tension area. “The Royal Danish Navy is strong and capable and would be able to contribute actively and effectively to this type of engagement,” said Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen.
A final decision would still need to be discussed in parliament. Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs held talks with Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday, Iranian state media reported, as tensions mount in the Gulf after Tehran detained a British-flagged oil tanker. Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been a go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Washington and Tehran are in a protracted stand-off over Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, and tensions have flared after Iran downed a US drone over the Gulf and the United States said it brought down at least one Iranian drone, which Tehran denied. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran is at a crossroads.
His administration is trying to decide whether to risk stoking international tensions even more by ending one of the last remaining components of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The US faces a Thursday deadline to decide whether to extend or cancel sanctions waivers to foreign companies working on Iran’s civilian nuclear program as permitted under the deal. Ending the waivers would be the next logical step in the campaign and it’s a move favored by Trump’s allies in Congress who endorse a tough approach to Iran. But it also would escalate tensions with Iran and with some European allies, and two officials say a divided administration is likely to keep the waivers afl oat with temporary extensions. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.