US ready to protect PG shipping in defiance of Iran’s warnings: Report

Press TV – The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has reportedly claimed that it is fully prepared to maintain the flow of commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf despite Iran’s insistence that it will prevent all oil exports through the waterway’s Strait of Hormuz entry point if the US attempts to follow through with its threat of halting Iranian exports.

A Saturday report published by Khaleej Times daily, based in the kingdom of United Arab Emirates, cited a CENTCOM officer identified as Major Josh Jacques as saying that the US partners with “many nations to provide and promote security and stability in the region,” without directly referring to the Persian Gulf region.

He further added, “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

However, according to the Geneva Convention, the “right of transit passage” in the Persian Gulf is only secured for ships from countries who were signatories to the convention — which does not include the United States. Iran, therefore, regards US forces in the waterway as illegal since it is not a signatory to the UN convention.

The development came as Iran has firmly warned that it will close down the Hormuz Strait if the US pushes ahead with its threat to bring Iran’s oil exports “down to zero,” vowing to respond in kind to any violations of international laws governing the strategic waterway, through which 30 percent of global oil flows.

Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri declared on Wednesday the Iran’s elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) is fully prepared to defend Hormuz in face of potential violations by the US and its client states in the region.

“The IRGC Navy’s preparedness and capabilities unsettle the aggressors before entering the Strait of Hormuz, and [this is why] they have adhered to international laws over the past year,” Baqeri said. “And, should they overstep that, they will face the IRGC Navy’s response and restraining measures.”

Following his decision in May to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump further insisted that he would also reinstate all economic sanctions that were removed under the deal while imposing even tougher sanctions in near future.

Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton also emphasized last week during a visit to the Israeli-occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds) that Washington is exerting “maximum pressure” on the Iranian government of Iran to change its behavior, adding that the US was prepared to use sanctions to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero.

While claiming that the renewal of American sanctions was having a strong effect on Iran’s economy, Bolton further expressed his desire of enhancing the “alliance between US and Israel” against Iran.

“We are going to do other things to put pressure on Iran as well, beyond economic sanctions,” he added.

The US has deployed troops and warships throughout the Persian Gulf region, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Turkey involved in some aspects of the American military buildup.

The US 5th Fleet is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf with carriers, ships, strike aircraft, sailors and marines and has been involved in periodic confrontations with Iranian forces.

Meanwhile, Iran’s newly appointed IRGC navy commander, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, further underlined last week that the country maintains full control over the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and is ready to protect the waterway as well as the Sea of Oman.

“In the Persian Gulf, the IRGC Navy and in the Sea of Oman, the naval forces of the Army are prepared to defend the waters with their intelligence dominance and monitoring of the enemy’s physical presence,” he said Monday, insisting that there is no need for the presence of foreign forces in the area.

“The enemy is using the ploy of [alleged Iranian threat] to have a presence in the region and sell arms,” he said. “Their presence in the region is detrimental to security and does not bring about any security.”