TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said on Sunday it is capable of ensuring the safety of the vital Gulf waters in cooperation with neighboring countries, following maritime tensions with the United States.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran and the countries south of the Persian Gulf are capable of cooperating to ensure the security of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Sea of Oman,” Iran’s Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri said on Sunday.
He was speaking at a ceremony held near the strategic Strait of Hormuz to celebrate the conclusion of an eight-month-long mission by the Iranian navy to circumnavigate the globe.
The Gulf waters, which carry at least a third of the world’s seaborne oil, have witnessed a spate of incidents since 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
Bagheri’s comments come days after the commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Vice-Admiral Brad Cooper, transited through the Strait of Hormuz in a guided-missile destroyer along with French and British navy commanders to underline a unified stance on protecting the waterway, following a series of Iranian attacks on shipping in the Gulf.
And earlier this month, the United States said it was sending reinforcements to the Gulf after what it called increasing harassment by Iran of ships in the oil-rich waters.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since Iran at the end of April seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman bound for the United States.
Iran said the tanker had crashed into one of its vessels, leaving two Iranian crew members missing and injuring several others.
Meanwhile, Iran’s official news agency IRNA on Saturday quoted Abbas Gholamshahi, a rear admiral in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards navy, as saying that the force “has full control over all vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.”