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Iran: Deployment of European force to Persian Gulf would be hostile

Ali Rabiei, spokesman for the Iranian administration, takes questions at a press conference in Tehran, on July 28, 2019.

Iran says the deployment of a European naval mission to the Persian Gulf would convey a “hostile message” and would fuel regional tensions.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Ali Rabiei, the spokesman for the Iranian administration, said Iran believed that security in the region should be provided by the countries of the region and that the Islamic Republic would be “the main advocate” of such security action.

“A while ago, we heard that they intend to bring a European fleet to the Persian Gulf. It is believed that such measures are menacing under the current circumstances, carry a hostile message, and would stir tensions,” Rabiei said.

On Monday, former British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans for a European-led naval mission in what he claimed would be aimed at ensuring safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz. He also said that the planned European mission was not part of the US policy of exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran.

It came a few days after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded a British-flagged tanker because it failed to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat — as is required by international law — in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iranian capture came 15 days after British naval forces seized an Iranian-owned supertanker and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar, claiming that was carrying the oil to Syria in violation of the European Union (EU)’s unilateral sanctions on the Arab country.

While Tehran denied that the supertanker was bound for Syria, it warned that the move would not go unanswered.

Tehran also condemned the confiscation as “maritime piracy,” which reportedly took place at the request of the US.

“They should stop the robbery and release the ship,” Rabiei said in his Sunday remarks. “Definitely, we, too, would make a decision based on goodwill.”

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