Flashpoint / Global 24 January 2021 Strait of Hormuz Share Facebook Twitter Email Print Back To Map I. Why it Matters In recent years, the U.S. and Iranian navies have had numerous tense encounters in the Persian Gulf, where 30 per cent of the world’s seaborne-traded crude oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz every day. An intentional or inadvertent incident at sea could quickly escalate into a direct military confrontation, and risk shipping through the critical energy chokepoint. II. Recent Developments 24 January 2021 Indonesian officials announced the seizure of “an Iranian tanker and Panamanian tanker suspected of carrying out the illegal transfer of oil”. Acknowledging the incident, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson described it as a “technical issue”. View More 22 January 2021 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif maintained that Iran would “respond positively to any initiative for regional dialogue advanced in good faith”. He also contended that “neither the U.S. nor its European allies have the prerogative to lead or sponsor future talks. Rather, the Persian Gulf region needs an inclusive regional mechanism to encourage diplomacy and cooperation and to lower the risk of miscalculation and conflict”. He further referred to Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) proposal and said: “The invitation is still on the table”. View More 18 January 2021 South Korean media reports citing a diplomatic source indicated that South Korea had “moved its anti-piracy naval unit operating near the Strait of Hormuz away from the waterway to foster a positive mood ahead of negotiations with Iran over a seized oil tanker and its sailors”. View More 15 January 2021 The IRGC test fired ballistic missiles and drones during a military exercise in central Iran. A senior IRGC official claimed that “through the combination of new missile capabilities and drone operation with artificial intelligence, today a new power was born in the IRGC”. On the second day of the drill, a senior IRGC official reported that “various classes of long-range ballistic missiles were launched in the final stage of the war game… to detonate the hypothetical enemy’s warships from a distance of 1,800km north of the Indian Ocean”. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami maintained that “these exercises are held so that the enemies do not make mistakes in their calculations or estimation about Iran's defence power”. View More 13 January 2021 Against the backdrop of war games in the Gulf of Oman, Iran’s military chief of staff, Mohammad Baqeri, announced that Iran would “once again include the Red Sea in the list of zones for its naval patrol operations after a series of limited actions against Iranian trade vessels”. On the second day of the military exercise, Iran’s navy commander asserted that “our approach today is not just defensive. We are prepared for whatever offensive operation [as well]”. The same day, the Iranian army reported spotting a foreign submarine approaching the drill zone, which “left the region immediately after being traced”. View More 11 January 2021 IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri maintained that “the naval forces of the IRGC and the Iranian Army are present in the Persian Gulf and this presence continues through the southern waters to the Indian Ocean”, emphasising that “[they] are fully prepared against any aggression”. View More 8 January 2021 U.S. Central Command announced that it had dispatched two B-52H bombers to “the Arabian Gulf and back to send a clear deterrent message”. “The temporary deployment, the fourth in the last two months… is one element of a robust U.S. defensive posture that includes the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier and other assets”, the statement added. A U.S. military spokesperson emphasised that “America doesn’t seek conflict… This mission is a measured approach to demonstrate that we are committed to the defence of our forces in the region and are capable of responding to any aggression on short notice”. View More 8 January 2021 The IRGC inaugurated an underground missile base on Iran’s southern coast. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami remarked that “this is one of the several facilities for keeping the strategic missiles of IRGC naval force in which a column of missiles and launching systems are deployed… With a range of hundreds of kilometers, these missiles have pinpointing and high destruction capability to penetrate into the enemy’s electronic war equipment”. He further asserted that “our enemies do not accept the power of logic, but rely on the logic of power. Therefore, we have no option but to strengthen the defensive and offensive deterrent power for preventing the imposition of their hegemonic will and plots”. View More 7 January 2021 IRGC Commander Hossein Salami warned that “the enemy should be careful about its miscalculations in the region”, adding: “We have rolled up our sleeves for the security of Persian Gulf”. View More 4 January 2021 The IRGC Navy announced that it had seized Hankuk Chemi, a South Korean-flagged tanker, and detained its crew of twenty because of “environmental and chemical pollution concerns”, for which Iran asked for compensation. The incident occurred in the Strait of Hormuz. The South Korean government called for “the early release of the ship”. A U.S. diplomatic spokesperson maintained that Iran “continues to threaten navigational rights and freedoms in the Persian Gulf as part of a clear attempt to extort the international community into relieving the pressure of sanctions. We join the Republic of Korea’s call for Iran to immediately release the tanker”. An Iranian government spokesperson subsequently argued that “if there is any hostage-taking, it is Korea’s government that is holding $7 billion, which belongs to us, hostage”. View More 4 January 2021 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson maintained that “the actions and moves and some mischief of the U.S. are not hidden from our eyes, and our intelligence, security and military services are fully aware of the seemingly secret moves of the U.S. in the region and Iraq”. “The messages have been clearly conveyed to Washington and the countries of the region”, he added, while reiterating “the role of the agents and allies of the Zionist regime [ie, Israel] can be seen in some tensions, especially in Iraq”. View More 3 January 2021 U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller announced that “due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials... the USS Nimitz will now remain on station in the U.S. Central Command area of operations”. “No one should doubt the resolve of the U.S.”, he added. View More 2 January 2021 The Iraqi military reported that it had dismantled a naval mine found attached to an Iraqi oil tanker. View More 31 December 2020 Iran wrote to the UN Security Council objecting to increased U.S. “military adventurism… in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea”. “Coupled with a series of systematic disinformation campaign, unfounded accusations and inflammatory statements and threats… such confrontational measures have further deteriorated the already tense security environment of this highly volatile region”, the letter added. “If unchecked, such warmongering tendencies could escalate the situation to an alarming level, and it is self-evident that the U.S. shall bear the full responsibility for all consequences”. Relatedly, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed that “intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to fabricate pretext for war”, asserting: “Iran doesn’t seek war but will openly and directly defend its people, security and vital interests”. Relatedly, media reports indicated that “the U.S. has seen increasing indications that Iran could be planning an attack against American forces or interests in the Middle East”, with an unnamed U.S. official describing Iran’s intentions as “difficult and at times unpredictable” to assess. View More 28 December 2020 Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani decried “the increase of U.S. army provocation in the region” and said: “These measures have increased entropy of insecurity and leads to harmful misunderstandings”. Relatedly, Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson indicated that Tehran “sent a message to the U.S. and its allies in the region that the U.S. should not resort to any new adventurism in the last days of” the Trump administration. He also responded to reports of an Israeli submarine reportedly en route to the Gulf and an Israeli military spokesperson indicating that “the IDF operates freely in the Middle East and that Israeli submarines sail to ‘different places, far and near’”, asserting: “Everyone knows very well how high the risk is raised if the red lines of Iran are crossed”. View More 21 December 2020 The U.S. Navy announced that “the nuclear-power Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) along with the guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal (CG 73) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) transited the Strait of Hormuz entering the Arabian Gulf”. Relatedly, media reports claimed that an Israeli submarine was en route to the Gulf in what was described as “a message to Iran”. The following day, CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie noted that “there are a lot of reasons for bringing a submarine into the straight into the Arabian Gulf… [it] is going to be on the surface. So you can take that for what it’s worth”. View More 19 December 2020 Speaking at a ceremony marking a rotation of Iranian forces, a senior Iranian naval official posited that “ensuring the security of Iran’s commercial transportation lines, the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, conveying the message of peace and friendship of Iran to other countries present in the Gulf of Aden are among the missions of the Iranian naval flotilla”. View More 6 December 2020 A senior U.S. naval official assessed that “we have achieved an uneasy deterrence [with Iran]. That uneasy deterrence is exacerbated by world events and by events along the way… But I have found Iranian activity at sea to be cautious and circumspect and respectful, to not risk unnecessary miscalculation or escalation at sea”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson responded: “We are happy that the other party has got the message and made its behaviour more respectful”, while deeming the U.S. presence in the region as the “main source of tension”. View More 21 November 2020 The IRGC detained “a foreign vessel with Panamanian nationality… in the Persian Gulf, while it was loading the smuggled fuel”. View More 19 November 2020 Speaking at the unveiling of an “ocean-going, helicopter and drone-carrying warship”, IRGC Commander Hossein Salami asserted that “we will not be limited to any specific geography to defend our security and vital interests and if anyone wants to threaten the interests of this nation and great country, certainly he/she will not find a safe point on Earth”. “We are never the first to threaten any country; but this defensive strategy has always been accompanied by offensive tactics”, Salami added. View More 10 November 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved “the UAE’s proposed purchase of several advanced [defence] capabilities that are worth $23.37b”, explaining that the decision “is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran”. Pompeo added: “The UAE’s historic agreement to normalise relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region’s strategic landscape. Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared success”. View More 22 October 2020 The U.S. and the UAE launched a strategic dialogue, which they jointly stated was in part “meant to underline the importance of U.S.-UAE defence coordination to deter military threats through joint planning, training, exercises and interoperability of equipment”. View More 20 October 2020 Defense Secretary Mark Esper remarked that “so many of the countries in the region recognise that the biggest concern they have, we have too, is Iran and its maligned behaviour through that region… The vision would be to have some type of security construct out there, where countries on the peninsula, Israel and others, are working together to deter conflict with Iran”. He also noted that “all of those countries have an interest, certainly have concerns – freedom of navigation through the Persian Gulf, freedom of commerce, threats to the sovereignty of the countries… countries are recognizing that reality and they’re seeing the other possible benefits, as well, of normalisation”. View More 20 October 2020 Speaking at a UN Security Council session on the “situation in the Persian Gulf region”, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asserted that “we need collective efforts by regional countries to establish inclusive dialogue and security networking in this region”. He also called for “a strong region that precludes hegemonic illusions by any power- regional or global”, adding that “together we can envisage a broad spectrum of cooperation and confidence-building measures”. At the same session, the U.S. representative argued that “the international community does not need yet another mechanism to promote Gulf security. The Security Council has all the tools at its disposal to hold Iran accountable; we must simply decide to do so”. View More 19 October 2020 Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami discussed the expiry of UN arms restrictions on Iran and maintained that “the ground for selling and buying weapons is prepared for the Islamic Republic of Iran, but of course, the sales will be more”. “There must not be an arms race, as this would turn the region into a powder keg”, Hatami emphasised, adding: “we are ready to sign military and security agreements with the countries of the Persian Gulf in order to strengthen regional stability”. He further warned that “the normalisation of relations of the UAE and Bahrain with the Zionist regime [ie, Israel] is a direct threat to the security of the Persian Gulf region”, and “any Israeli threat coming from the Persian Gulf will face a clear and direct response”. Hatami went on to affirm that “the Islamic Republic will not negotiate with the U.S. regarding its missile systems”. View More 15 October 2020 The U.S. Navy confirmed that one of its destroyers had assisted a distressed Iranian-flagged vessel in the Arabian Sea. View More 14 October 2020 A senior Iranian diplomat insisted that the “Persian Gulf’s security is an issue of common interest for all regional countries… the establishment of sustainable security in the region is contingent upon dialogue and collective cooperation among regional countries and non-interference by foreign powers”. “Instead of deploying troops and military equipment or selling massive amounts of arms to certain regional countries”, he added, “European countries had better tackle the root cause of tensions in the region, namely the U.S.’s destructive and wrong policies in the Persian Gulf region”. View More 23 September 2020 The IRGC inaugurated a new naval base east of the Strait of Hormuz. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami asserted that “with the opening and unveiling of this base, the country’s combat operations, ship operations, reconnaissance, as well as defensive and offensive operations in the Persian Gulf, will further develop”. View More 23 September 2020 IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri indicated that during a “tracing operation, [the USS] Nimitz aircraft carrier along with escorting warships… were identified and traced [by Iranian drones] before entering the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf” on 18 September. View More 23 September 2020 A senior IRGC official cautioned that “Iran will not just retaliate any U.S. attempt to inspect Iranian ships in international waters, but also give a decisive response to such moves in sensitive places… They will face our massive fire”. He further insisted that “the U.S. will not succeed to achieve its objective of imposing [an] arms ban against Iran”. View More 21 September 2020 A senior Iranian navy official cautioned that a U.S. “aircraft carrier [ie, USS Nimitz], two cruisers and a number of destroyers are in the Persian Gulf. They are close to us and, if need be, we will definitely put them in the crosshairs”. View More 11 September 2020 The Iranian military asserted that “three U.S. aircraft… including P-8 Poseidon and MQ-9 and RQ-4 drones, were intercepted” by an Iranian drone after entering a drill zone, prompting them to withdraw. View More 9 September 2020 Prior to a military drill near the Strait of Hormuz, a senior Iranian military official posited that “the security of West Asia and its strategic waters depends on the localisation of the security and constructive cooperation between all regional countries and not allowing transregional forces to be present in the regional waters”. “The enemies of the Islamic Republic should know that in case they commit any strategic mistake, the geography of battle and the stage of Iran’s response to their measures will not be limited to the West Asian region”, he warned. The drill kicked off the following day. An Iranian military spokesperson indicated that Iran’s Air Force had notified “all foreign drones flying near the exercise site to leave”, and claimed that “since then, we have been witnessing a noticeable change in the activities of U.S. drones”. View More 24 August 2020 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Jerusalem and met with senior Israeli officials. During a joint press appearance, Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the normalisation agreement between the U.S., Israel and the UAE and underscored that “this is the alliance of the moderates against the radicals, against those who use violence and aggression to further their aims against those who believe that we can offer… a better future for our people through cooperation”. Secretary Pompeo noted that “we have a 20-plus year security relationship with the UAE as well… We will now continue to review that process to make sure that we’re delivering them with the equipment that they need to secure and defend their own people from this same threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran as well. We are deeply committed to doing that, to achieving that, and we’ll do it in a way that preserves our commitment to Israel as well”. During his visit, Pompeo also met with the UK Foreign Secretary and “discussed coordination on countering Iran’s destabilising influence in the region”. View More 20 August 2020 The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the UAE’s chargé d’affaires after UAE coast guards on 17 August reportedly opened fire at Iranian fishing vessels, killing two, and seized a boat (subsequently released, along with its crew). The ministry also announced that the same day “a UAE vessel was intercepted and its crew arrested by Iranian border guard boats for illegally entering Iranian waters”. On 8 October, a senior Iranian diplomat confirmed that the UAE had paid “blood money” for the two Iranian fishermen killed in the incident. View More 15 August 2020 Referring to the 14 August announcement of an agreement between the U.S., Israel and the UAE on “full normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE”, President Rouhani indicated that “the rulers of the UAE should know that if they think they can get closer to the enemies of Islam and Iran, they can buy security for themselves, they have gone in the wrong direction… We warn them not to want to invite Israel to the region, in which case they will be treated differently”. The IRGC condemned the agreement as “shameful” and Iran’s Armed Forces warned that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi “will face negative consequences of this shameful action like ousted Egyptian President Anwar Sadat”. The following day, Iran’s Chief of Staff remarked that “we consider any tension in the region as a consequence of this move” and urged the UAE to “leave the path that undermines its own security and the security of the region”. The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) subsequently condemned Iran’s “threats” and asserted that “Iran must adhere to the UN Charter and refrain from interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations”. View More 14 August 2020 The U.S. Justice Department announced that acting upon a U.S. District Court seizure order, the U.S. had confiscated the cargo of four vessels, “a multimillion dollar fuel shipment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)… bound for Venezuela”. “With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in U.S. custody”, the statement added. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that “the proceeds from the Iranian gasoline, if successfully forfeited in U.S. courts, could now support the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund”. He further argued that “we are seeing more and more global shipping fleets avoiding the Iran-Venezuela trade due to our sanctions implementation and enforcement efforts”. Iran’s ambassador to Caracas reacted to the news by saying: “another lie and psychological warfare by the U.S.’s imperialism propaganda machine. The tankers are neither Iranians, nor their owners or flags have anything to do with Iran”. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif maintained that the “stolen booty wasn’t Iran’s… ship and flag weren’t ours either. Hollow, cheap propaganda doesn’t deflect from the miserable failure of U.S. diplomatic malpractice at the UN”. President Rouhani struck a similar note, asserting that “the news turned out to be a lie, and they did it to cover up their humiliation”. View More 13 August 2020 The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) reported that it had on 12 August “monitored an incident involving Iranian forces who boarded a tanker in the international waters of the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz”. The IMSC further asserted that “Iran’s use of its military forces to conduct an armed boarding of a commercial vessel in international waters constitutes a blatant violation of international law that undermines freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce… this type of reckless, aggressive behaviour by Iran destabilises the region and threatens the rules-based international order”. View More 30 July 2020 At the end of the Great Prophet-14 military exercise in the Strait of Hormuz, the IRCG issued a statement asserting that “in case of any aggression against Iran, the IRGC and other powerful defenders of the country will give a decisive and crushing response according to its defence strategy while protecting the independence, territorial integrity, security, national interests and geographical parts of the country, especially the Persian Gulf Islands”. It also maintained that the drill’s message “to neighbouring and friendly countries was peace and friendship as well as security for the region while the global arrogance [ie, the U.S.] received the message of the Iranian nation and Armed Forces’ preparedness, vigilance and steadfastness in the face of enemies’ plots and threats”. View More 28 July 2020 On the sideline of the Great Prophet-14 military exercise, IRGC Commander Hossein Salami asserted that “we do not initiate aggression on any country, but in tactics and operation, we are completely aggressive”. A senior IRGC official indicated that “anti-ballistic and cruise missiles… have been carried out [during the drill] and some surprising weapons and equipment such as long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles that can target ships from a long distance will be used”. CENTCOM confirmed that two bases hosting U.S. forces in Qatar and UAE went on alert due to ballistic missile fire from the drill. A U.S. Navy spokesperson argued that “Iran conducts offensive exercises, attempting to intimidate and coerce… While we are always watchful of this type of irresponsible and reckless behaviour by Iran in the vicinity of busy international waterways this exercise has not disrupted coalition operations in the area nor had any impacts to the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and surrounding waters”. View More 14 July 2020 CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie remarked that “we always look very carefully at threats to navigation through the Strait of Hormuz… through entities such as the International Maritime Security Construct, we’re able to ensure that commerce passes unimpeded and we’re able to shine a spotlight on malign activities that occur”. He added: “for the past several months it’s been pretty quiet, and we’re glad, and I believe that is actually due in large measure to the International Maritime Security Construct and to the flow of information, intelligence and knowledge that it’s allowed to pass between states that are pushing cargos through the Strait of Hormuz”. View More 5 July 2020 IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri maintained that “the IRGC Navy is present everywhere in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, in every place that the enemy would not even think about… All of our coasts are armed and the underground [missile] cities of the Army and the IRGC with various defense utilities have scattered over the entire southern coasts”. View More 27 June 2020 Saudi Arabia’s Border Guards revealed that on 25 June “three Iranian boats… entered Saudi waters, where they were immediately followed up and repeated warnings issued to them to stop, but they refused to respond”. The Saudi forces subsequently “fired warning shots, forcing the Iranian boats to retreat”. An Iranian official indicated that the ships were fishing boats that had gone off course. View More 22 June 2020 IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri announced that the “IRGC Navy has been notified to be present in the Indian Ocean permanently… [the] IRGC is looking to establish a permanent base in the Indian Ocean by the end of the current Iranian year [ie, March 2021]”. He went on to state that “we will provide a better platform for more special presence of fishermen and industrial fishing units in the oceans by providing security and establishing a permanent base in the Indian Ocean… the IRGC’s presence will be a powerful and strong presence”. View More 21 June 2020 IRGC Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri remarked that “Iranian Armed Forces enjoy unrivaled power and superiority over enemies in the Persian Gulf, yet we believe that we have the message of peace and friendship to the Muslim Persian Gulf states and we can together establish brotherhood, peace and security in the Persian Gulf”. He further asserted that “the presence of foreigners in the region is meaningless and they should leave the region”. View More 18 June 2020 CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie maintained that the International Maritime Security Construct “is not part of our maximum pressure campaign against Iran”, and, making the point that the IMSC was not escalatory, argued: “since the IMSC's founding, there have not been any Iranian attacks on maritime shipping in the area and there haven’t even been any serious confrontations with Iranian maritime forces in the area of the Strait of Hormuz… Our presence makes deniable attacks less likely to succeed. So they've chosen not to try”. “The exposure of Iranian activities is a powerful tool and it's a non-kinetic and a de-escalatory tool that we routinely employ”, he added. “A clear result of the IMSC has been a result of the drawdown in tensions”. View More 18 June 2020 The Iranian navy announced that it had successfully tested new “short-range and long-range naval cruise missiles” during a military exercise. View More 29 May 2020 Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami emphasised that countries around the Gulf “are responsible for ensuring and maintaining security, and the neighbours’ move to allow the U.S. to enter the region is a strategic mistake”. He further noted “when the Persian Gulf region is safe, all regional countries will benefit from such security, but if the Persian Gulf becomes insecure, it will be insecure for all countries in the region”. View More 28 May 2020 Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami asserted that “with the delivery of  domestically-built offensive boats to the IRGC’s naval fleet, the security belt of the Persian Gulf, specially the strategic Strait of Hormuz, will be more tightened than before”. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami also emphasised that “we will not bow to enemies… Defence is our logic in war but not in the sense of passivity against the enemy. Our operations and tactics are offensive and we have shown it in the battlefield”. He went on to declare that “the most important and dangerous part of our power is unknown. Our enemies will see this power the day when they pursue an evil intention against this land… they will get to see the real firepower of our forces at the sea and in the sky, and the battlefield will turn into a hell for the enemies of Iran and Islam”. View More 25 May 2020 Commenting on U.S. military exercises in the Gulf, a senior IRGC official contended that the “holding of such drills cannot lead to their [ie, U.S.] continued presence in the region. The Americans are in a situation under which longer presence in the region would be to their detriment, because the regional countries despise the Americans”. He further argued that “if the Americans leave the region, the regional countries will be able to establish sustainable security through synergism, because security benefits all the regional countries and the Americans avail themselves of instability in the region”. View More 21 May 2020 Referring to a 19 May U.S. Navy warning, according to which “armed vessels approaching within 100m of a U.S. naval vessel may be interpreted as a threat”, the Pentagon underscored that “we have stated very clearly to individuals in the area to be careful and avoid our shops in the area… we’ve seen Iran violate that in an alarming and unprofessional way recently”. A spokesperson explained that “a determination was made that it would be helpful to provide a reminder, additional guidance to mariners in the area, to avoid U.S. warships and to set out a bright-line rule that would be a little bit clearer for them if there was any claims of possible confusion that they should not attempt to harass or approach or confront a U.S. warship sailing in international waters”. View More 20 May 2020 The U.S. Navy advised, with specific reference to the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea, that “due to recent events, in order to enhance safety, minimise ambiguity and reduce opportunities for miscalculations, all vessels are advised to maintain a safe distance of at least 100m from U.S. naval vessels in international waters and straits. Armed vessels approaching within 100m of a U.S. naval vessel may be interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures”. An Iranian military official subsequently stated that “the naval units of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman will continue their regular missions in accordance with professional principles as in the past”. View More 18 May 2020 Multiple media reports citing unnamed intelligence officials suggested that Israel was behind a 9 May hack of an Iranian port facility. An Iranian official acknowledged that “some [minor] disruptions at the computer systems last week can be the result of a cyberattack”, though port officials maintained “there has been no disruption in operations” at the facility. View More 14 May 2020 Following a fatal accident during a 10 May Iranian naval exercise, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson stated that “while we are troubled that this mishap occurred in such close proximity to a high-traffic international shipping lane and at a time when most of the region’s focus is on the fight against COVID-19, the unnecessary loss of life is regrettable”. The spokesperson also extended “sincere condolences to the Iranian people for the tragic loss of life”. View More 14 May 2020 The U.S. issued a sanctions advisory “to provide those engaged or involved in trade in the maritime industry and energy and metals sectors with further information and tools to counter current and emerging trends related to illicit shipping and sanctions evasion”, focusing on three countries including Iran and Syria. View More 11 May 2020 A senior Iranian official reported a cyberattack against a port at the Strait of Hormuz. Another official indicated that the incident was still under investigation. View More 11 May 2020 Nineteen Iranian navy personnel were killed and another fifteen injured in an accident during a naval exercise off the country’s southern coast. Their vessel, Konarak, was reportedly struck by a missile fired by an Iranian warship. View More 5 May 2020 President Rouhani told Japanese Prime Minister Abe that “in the hard times of fighting coronavirus and its severe economic consequences, the U.S.’s illegal sanctions against the Iranian nation have intensified… we are facing many problems even in the field of medical equipment and food supply”. Rouhani further stated that “we are sorry that in recent weeks we have seen tensions created by the U.S. in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region, not to mention that tensions in the region have always begun by the U.S.” View More 30 April 2020 The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, referring to the 15 April naval interaction between Iranian and U.S. vessels, argued that “the Iranian swift boats that the IRGC operates exceeded the rules of maritime safety in international waters. The Iranian regime would like to desensitise us so that after doing it a number of times, they could then get within sufficient range to actually kill American soldiers. We're not gonna let that happen. We're going to enforce the rules of the road in international waters… As a matter of self defence, and protecting the lives of Americans, President Trump said that if they do it again the boats will be destroyed”. In related comments, Secretary of State Pompeo underscored that U.S. forces “have all the authority they need to do what’s right to defend themselves, no matter who it is that presents that risk to them”. View More 29 April 2020 Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei opined that “the Persian Gulf region can be managed by a wise and rational collective policy that benefits all Persian Gulf countries. The factor that threatens such a proper, wise move is the presence of foreign forces in the region”. Asserting that the Iranian nation “should demonstrate its power” in the area, he further noted: “the Persian Gulf belongs to the nations living there. Its security is the duty of these nations, and Iran with its long coastlines has a key role in keeping the security of this region. By God’s grace we will do our part. This is our historical, geographical and regional duty”. View More 29 April 2020 On the occasion of “Persian Gulf Day”, President Rouhani asserted that “the Americans should know that the name of this gulf is ‘Persian Gulf’ and not the Gulf of New York and Washington, and this nation has been – and is – the guardian of the security of this waterway for thousands of years and they should not conspire against this nation every day”. “Let the enemies know that the Army, the IRGC and all Iranian law enforcement and military forces have been – and will be – the guardians of this waterway”, Rouhani added. In related remarks, the spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces emphasised that “if [President Trump] is telling the truth about instructing U.S. troops to attack Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, they should know that the smallest move or a single violation of Iran’s interests or territorial waters will lead the trespassers to receive a slap in the face”. View More 27 April 2020 In a statement, Iran’s Armed Forces argued that “dangerous behaviours that are disruptive to the security of shipping transit [in the Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman] began when some adventurous and terrorist countries such as the U.S. and a number of its allies tried to gain a foothold in this region. By increasing harmful traffic and establishing military bases, the U.S. has virtually become the source of insecurity and chaos in the region”. The statement added that Iran’s military “considers the presence of the U.S. and its allies illegitimate and the source of evil and insecurity… The only safe alternative to stabilise peace is the withdrawal of U.S. troops and their allies from the region”. The statement also underscored “Iran has not and will not initiate any tensions and conflicts in the region, but it will always defend its territorial integrity with readiness, strength and power, and it is obvious that any adventure and provocative actions will be responded [to] strongly”. View More 25 April 2020 In a conversation with the Emir of Qatar, President Rouhani noted that “Iran closely monitors and pursues the U.S.’s activities, but will never initiate any conflict or tension in the region”. Speaking with his Chinese counterpart two days later, President Rouhani indicated that “for Iran, the security of the region and waterways is important, but unfortunately, the dangerous behaviour of the U.S. may disrupt the stability of the Persian Gulf region”. View More 23 April 2020 U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asserted that “the message needs to be loud and clear to the Iranians that if they threaten our warships, our commanders have the right of self-defence, and we will execute that right... they need to be mindful of how they conduct themselves and they need to conduct themselves professionally”. He further noted that “we are looking at modifications to our practices to make sure that Iranians know that they need to stay clear of our warships and of our personnel and we are not going to tolerate threatening behaviour”. In related remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that “this administration behaves totally different than the previous one… [President Trump] has told the Iranian regime enough, we’re not going to permit this, we’re going to defend our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen and Marines. I think the Iranians understand that as well”. View More 22 April 2020 President Trump declared that he had “instructed the U.S. Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”. Iranian IRGC Commander Hossein Salami subsequently announced that “we have ordered our naval units to target any vessel or combat unit of the terrorist U.S. forces who want to threaten the security of our non-combat ships or combat vessels”. Iran’s Foreign Ministry also summoned the Swiss ambassador, whose country represents U.S. interests in Iran, and gave him a letter in which “the U.S. administration has been reminded about the importance of observing international maritime safety regulations and shipping freedom”. View More 19 April 2020 Iran’s IRGC Navy issued a statement indicating that “in recent weeks, we have witnessed the recurrence of unprofessional behaviour of the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf threatening the security and stability of the region and posing new risks… Accordingly, IRGC has increased the capacity of its naval patrols in the waters of the Persian Gulf to prevent the continued illegal, unprofessional, dangerous and even adventurous behaviour of American terrorists, as well as to strengthen the security of domestic vessels and combat fuel smuggling”. The statement also rejected the U.S. account of a 15 April naval interaction between the two sides, asserting that the U.S. vessels had carried out “unprofessional and provocative actions”. It went to warn that “the IRGC navy and the powerful armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran will consider the dangerous behaviour of foreigners in the region as a threat to their national security, and give a definite response to any computational error”. View More 15 April 2020 U.S. Naval Forces Central Command reported that “eleven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” toward six U.S. vessels “conducting joint integration operations with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf”. The statement assessed that “the IRGCN's dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision”, adding: “U.S. naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defence”. Iranian Minister of Defence Amir Hatami subsequently argued that “what creates insecurity in the Persian Gulf region is in fact the illegal and aggressive presence of Americans, who have come near our borders from the other side of the world”. View More 14 April 2020 United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported that “a vessel had been boarded by armed men while at anchor” in the Gulf of Oman. Media reports indicated that the vessel was SC Taipei, a Hong Kong-flagged tanker. UKMTO subsequently confirmed the ship’s release, and added that the event was “assessed to be an isolated incident of state-based intervention, with no wider threat to maritime shipping in the region”. View More 26 March 2020 Lithuania signed on to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), joining seven other countries in the U.S.-led initiative. View More 13 March 2020 CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie announced that “the Secretary [of Defense] granted my request to continue to operate two carrier strike groups in the region, which is the first period of extended dual U.S. carrier operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility since April 2012”. View More 25 February 2020 The French military announced that “Operation Agenor, the military component of the European-led Maritime Situation Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH), has reached full operational capacity”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently reacted by describing the presence of external forces in the area as “unconstructive”. View More 16 February 2020 Discussing Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) proposal, President Rouhani noted that “some regional countries welcomed it well and some others have not yet given an explicit response, but we still believe that it is the regional states that must help establish peace. We stress that all countries must enjoy security and stability in the region”. On Yemen, Rouhani underlined that “the Yemeni issues must be resolved by the Yemenis themselves and the countries that are carrying out acts of aggression toward the country must stop it”. He also asserted that Iran “oppose[s] war”, while adding that “Americans are not looking for war either”. View More 15 February 2020 At the Munich Security Conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif underscored that “we have no intention of having trouble with any of our neighbours… We would run to the assistance of Saudi Arabia if anybody attacks Saudi Arabia”. Zarif added: “my message to my brothers: I’m not asking them to stop their relations with the U.S. That’s none of my business... What is our business is that the U.S. will not give you protection. Israel will not give you protection. You need to get protection from within. Security cannot be purchased”. He further accused Saudi Arabia of funding “every Iranian terrorist organisation”. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan indicated that “our message to Iran has been that once they are willing to admit that their regional behaviour is the main source of instability and that activities such as firing ballistic missiles at your neighbouring states is not contributory to security, then we can discuss the potential of talks”. View More 14 February 2020 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice indicating that “Iran has de-escalated its military posture in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman as of early February 2020… Given the de-escalation, the FAA assesses there is sufficient reduced risk of Iranian military miscalculation or misidentification that could affect U.S. civil aviation operations”. It further evaluated that “military posturing and political tensions in the region remain elevated, and there remains some inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or misidentification”. View More 13 February 2020 U.S. Central Command announced that on 9 February, U.S. forces in the Arabian Sea “boarded a dhow in accordance with international law and discovered a large cache of weapons”, including “150 'Dehlavieh' anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM)” and other materiel “of Iranian design and manufacture”. View More 2 February 2020 As a Japanese destroyer set sail for patrols in the Gulf of Oman and Bab al-Mandab, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored that Japanese forces would “not come under [U.S.] command in military operations”, while sharing information on a daily basis. Iran’s embassy reiterated Tehran’s view that the “presence of foreign forces in the region will not contribute to security and stability”. View More 30 January 2020 The Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel announced that “the leadership of the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) was transferred from the U.S. to the United Kingdom”. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that “we’ve described it as a U.S.-led effort, the IMSC, but clearly, we have many partners”. The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, maintained that “while the IMSC is separate from our maximum pressure campaign, it’s important that the international community ensure the safe – to safeguard global commerce and freedom of navigation throughout the region, which is where so much of the world’s oil supply flows through”. View More 30 January 2020 France commenced naval patrols as part of the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH). View More 21 January 2020 South Korea announced that “in consideration of the current situation in the Middle East, the government has decided to temporarily expand the Cheonghae [anti-piracy] Unit’s sphere of activity in order to guarantee safety of our people and the freedom of navigation of our vessels”; a defence official indicated that “we’ve made preparations for possible missions in the Hormuz Strait. But Cheonghae’s basic missions – anti-piracy activities and escorting ships – remain unchanged”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson indicated that Seoul had “informed us that it wants to dispatch a part of its fleet in Aden to the region for patrolling missions, but outside the U.S. coalition, and we have told them that the decision is unacceptable”. A Pentagon spokesperson indicated that “we welcome our South Korean allies helping to ensure freedom of navigation in the Middle East by supporting the IMSC”. View More 20 January 2020 Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal jointly announced that they “politically support the creation of a European-led maritime surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH)”. “We welcome any contribution in kind as already declared by Denmark, France, Greece and the Netherlands to this effort and look forward to further commitments in the coming days”, the statement added, further maintaining that “the [UAE-based] EMASOH will constitute a useful instrument in safeguarding the freedom of navigation”. “EMASOH aims to foster de-escalation and to complement vital diplomatic efforts aiming at ensuring increased stability and an inclusive regional dialogue in a critical context”, the eight governments concluded. View More 19 January 2020 Iran’s IRGC seized three Kuwaiti fishing vessels and detained nine crew members, asserting that “the boats had illegally entered Iran’s territorial waters”. View More 17 January 2020 French President Emmanuel Macro, announced that “in the Arabian Peninsula and Arab-Persian Gulf, where tensions are mounting, we have deployed in record time the Jaguar Task Force, which contributes to reassuring the Saudi kingdom”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently reacted by asserting that “your military presence in the Persian Gulf is as wrong as your naming it. Both mistakes are huge but compensable”. View More 17 January 2020 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif emphasised that "we are ready for negotiations with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf littoral states and we are ready to give proposals regarding security in this region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz”. View More 13 January 2020 The U.S. Maritime Administration issued a new advisory valid through November 2020 regarding commercial shipping in areas including the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz which noted that “multiple maritime threats have been reported in the geographic areas described above. Heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels. Associated with these threats is a potential for miscalculation or misidentification that could lead to aggressive actions”. The advisory went on to caution that “Vessels operating in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman may also encounter GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning. Vessels have also reported bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships”. View More 8 January 2020 Iran detained two vessels allegedly smuggling diesel fuel; the crews were arrested. View More 6 January 2020 A U.S. maritime alert, active through 13 January, warned of “the possibility of Iranian action against U.S. maritime interests in the region”, specifying that “U.S. commercial vessels are advised to exercise caution and coordinate vessel voyage planning for transits of the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea with NCAGS (U.S. Fifth Fleet Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping)”. View More 5 January 2020 The UK Defence Minister announced that he had “instructed preparations for HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to return to accompanying duties of Red Ensign Shipping”. View More 2 January 2020 The head of the IRGC's Qods force, Qasem Soleimani, was killed in a U.S. strike in Baghdad. The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that "at the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani”, adding that "Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region". Iran confirmed Soleimani’s death, and the IRGC said that four other Qods force members along with five Iraqis, notably including a senior Hashd official, were also killed in the operation. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei subsequently asserted that "enemies should bear in mind that the Islamic Republic of Iran will take tough revenge on criminals over the martyrdom of General Soleimani". View More 30 December 2019 The IRGC detained a vessel purportedly smuggling fuel, along with sixteen Malaysian crew members. View More 29 December 2019 Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif maintained that Iran’s trilateral drill with Russia and China "shows that Iran is willing to cooperate [with other countries] to ensure the security and the free passage of maritime traffic in the important international waterway of Hormuz". A senior Iranian navy official asserted that “the friends of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the region will be very happy with this move but those who seek to impose undesirable security arrangements, such as the Americans and their sidekicks, will receive a highly significant message from this drill”. “The era of inroads by the Americans in the region has ended and they have to gradually leave the region”, he added. The official further stressed that “the countries of the region can help establish security together and we hope that other countries will join us in the future”. View More 27 December 2019 Japan’s cabinet agreed to deploy a destroyer and two patrol planes off the Yemeni and Omani coasts. A senior Japanese official explained that “peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for the peace and prosperity of the international community including Japan… Also, it is very important to make sure Japan-related ships can sail safely in the Middle East, the world’s major source of energy”. View More 27 December 2019 Iran, Russia and China held a trilateral naval drill in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asserted that “Iran has long stated its readiness to work with our neighbours to secure the Persian Gulf. HOPE (Hormuz Peace Endeavour) is on the table right now. Our joint military drills… with our Russian and Chinese partners make clear our broader commitment to secure vital waterways”. A senior Iranian navy official remarked that “the message of this exercise is peace, friendship and lasting security through cooperation and unity… and its effect will be to show that Iran cannot be isolated”. View More 27 December 2019 A senior U.S. defence official predicted that Iran would likely “continue to perform provocative actions” in the region, adding that “they’ll look at every opportunity they can to do that”. He further maintained that “there’s nothing that suggests to me, short of a regime change there, that you have a different tone set from the leadership, that would suggest to me that they’re going to stop doing what they’ve been doing”. View More 22 December 2019 The Saudi foreign minister and the GCC secretary general signed a GCC Unified Military Command Headquarters Agreement in Riyadh. View More 21 December 2019 Following a trip to Japan, President Rouhani reported that “Japan supports Iran’s initiative that is the HOPE peace initiative… Japan has also announced that it will not take part in the Americans' plan for security in the region. We welcome both issues”. View More 19 December 2019 A French military spokesperson announced that “the Frigate Courbet will take part in the European maritime security initiative from the start of next year”. View More 15 December 2019 In remarks at the Doha Forum, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for “recognition of the imperative of a regional security and cooperation arrangement under the UN umbrella”, adding that “the Hormuz Peace Endeavour – or HOPE – is a continuation of our longstanding commitment to an inclusive and comprehensive regional framework for constructive engagement”. He also noted that “like the nuclear accord, no good idea can be pursued by only one party… While everyone could have benefited from the paradigm shift that the JCPOA promised – as a foundation and not a ceiling – it cannot be expected from a single party to be forthcoming while others are pursuing an opposite path”. View More 15 December 2019 A senior IRGC commander indicated that “the IRGC navy checks and monitors foreign vessels entering the Persian Gulf and questions them about their nationality, the type of the vessels and their destination… The Persian Gulf belongs to Iran and other littoral states and we have the right to question the vessels, because the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz is located in Iran’s territorial waters”. View More 12 December 2019 The Danish government announced that it would provide “a staff officer contribution from the beginning of 2020 and - subject to parliamentary approval in 2020 - a naval contribution beginning in the fall of 2020” to the European-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH). Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod noted that “our contribution will complement other efforts in the region, including the U.S.-led maritime security construct”, adding that “the European-led mission is also expected to be supplemented by diplomatic efforts aimed at enhancing regional dialogue on maritime security”. View More 10 December 2019 Addressing a GCC summit, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman remarked that “our region today is undergoing circumstances and challenges that call for concerted efforts to confront them, as the Iranian regime continues its hostile actions to undermine security and stability and support terrorism… [This] requires us to preserve the gains of our countries and the interests of our peoples, work with the international community to stop the interference of this regime, deal seriously with its nuclear program and the program to develop ballistic missiles and secure energy sources, safety of waterways and freedom of maritime navigation”. View More 10 December 2019 Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister was cited as asserting that “the Iranian threat is a threat to everyone… There is an understanding by the GCC countries on the importance of dealing with the threat and confronting it in the necessary ways”. He also called on Iran to “change its behaviour in attacking ships in the Gulf, supplying militias with weapons, financing terrorism and destabilising countries”. View More 7 December 2019 U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper noted that the “[we] continually assess the situation and make sure we have the right degree of forces in position to deter Iranian bad behaviour, and if necessary, to respond and respond forcefully in a way that they understand that we're serious about defending our friends, reassuring our allies and preventing them from misbehaving”. Asked whether he believed that “the threat from Iran is increasing”, Esper replied: “I think you could make that assessment given the effectiveness of the maximum pressure campaign, given what's happening in the streets of Iran these days… you see a regime increasingly under stress. I think we need to be prepared for any contingency”. He further maintained that “there have been reports in the public space about rockets being fired at American forces on bases in Iraq. So we've seen a little bit of an uptick there. And that's, again, another indicator for us of Iran reaching out”. “As they experience more stress, I need to be ensured that we have sufficient forces on the ground again, to reassure our allies help defend them, defend the international order and deter Iranian bad behavior”, Esper added. View More 6 December 2019 Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, indicated that “we will not allow Iran to produce or obtain nuclear weapons. If the only option left to us is the military option, we’ll act militarily”. He went on to assert that “the actions against Saudi Arabia [on September 14] and the oil tankers make us understand that Iran still feels strong. Our intelligence information tells us that it intends to hit the Gulf countries again. The threat of sanctions is not enough. The only deterrent is a military threat directed against the regime”. “U.S. pressure and sanctions are effective”, Katz added. “We expect Iran’s attempts to procure nuclear weapons and support terrorist groups to decline, but this will be easier if there is support from European countries. As long as the Iranians delude themselves that they have the support of Europe, it will be more difficult for them to bend”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently reacted by stating that “we regard the threats made by the Israeli regime as a sign for its weakness and its effort to conceal the crisis its leaders are facing presently”. View More 4 December 2019 A senior U.S. defence official reported that there had been “indications… that potential Iranian aggression could occur”. “We’ve sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression”, he added. View More 3 December 2019 Meeting with the Omani foreign minister in Tehran, President Rouhani remarked that “from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s point of view, there is no problem with expanding relations with neighbours and resuming ties with Saudi Arabia… All countries should stand beside each other to maintain security and stability in the region”. Referring to Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) proposal, Rouhani asserted that “we should maintain security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz through expanding cooperation and we should not let foreigners interfere”. View More 3 December 2019 A senior Indian official confirmed that Iran had repatriated three Indian fisherman whose Saudi-owned vessel had been detained in January 2019. View More 2 December 2019 In a meeting with his Omani counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif underlined that “Iran will welcome any move or initiative that is based on good will and is after reducing tensions in the region”. Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani also met with Omani foreign minister and emphasised that “the only coalition which is practical in the region and can bring stable security is the one acting without foreigners’ interference… Those countries with the most significant role in sowing tensions, spreading terrorism and igniting wars in the region have never sought peace in the Persian Gulf and are only looking for their own interests”. View More 29 November 2019 The Netherlands announced that it would “make a military contribution to the French-initiated, European-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH)” in 2020. In a statement, the Dutch government noted that “the mission’s goal is to prevent further incidents in the region. It also includes a diplomatic track, which will focus on de-escalating tensions, for example by means of an inclusive regional dialogue on maritime security”. View More 29 November 2019 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that “President Trump’s strategic effort certainly includes sanctions as an element of our efforts to make the [Iranian] leadership change their ways. But it is only one component, we think that has been an effective component, we think they are having to make very difficult choices about whether to feed their people, to provide medicine for their people or if they want to underwrite the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza or Hizbollah in Lebanon”. “We hope they will begin to make the right decision, we hope the people in Iraq will force them to make the right decision”, he added. Pompeo went on to elaborate that “our campaign has also been political and diplomatic, to get countries around the world to recognise Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism.… We are trying to unite the world alongside us, including the Europeans, who have taken a very different approach on the JCPOA, and President Trump is working to ensure that the Islamic Republic of Iran knows that they cannot engage in an activity like they have without there being a cost”. He additionally referred to “an increase in our deterrence capabilities by our activity in the Strait of Hormuz” as well as military deployments and weapons sales to U.S. allies in the Gulf and stated: “we hope that the combination of those things will restore deterrence to a level that is satisfactory, and the leadership will understand that there is a cost to their malign activity wherever it takes place”. View More 26 November 2019 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif remarked that “we believe that through a strong neighbourhood, we will be able to achieve our individual goals much easier and much better than individually… Iran is interested in maintaining the same type of relations that it has with its ECO (Economic Cooperation Organisation) partners and extending it to our partners in the Persian Gulf region”. “All of us”, he added, “will benefit from cooperation and all of us will suffer from competition, from conflict. from instability and from insecurity”. Discussing Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) proposal, Zarif emphasised that “you cannot be secure if your neighbours are not. That is why we extended the hand of friendship that we have extended to our ECO partners to our partners in the Persian Gulf, hoping that the same type of arrangement that would lead to greater confidence in cooperation could also evolve through cooperation, through joint effort, and through joint thinking also in the Persian Gulf region”. View More 25 November 2019 Addressing Iran’s rivals, IRGC Commander Hossein Salami remarked that “you have experienced our power in the battlefield and received a powerful slap across your face and could not respond; the world has come to observe some of these slaps, while it has not in some other cases. You should wait. If you cross our redlines, we will annihilate you”. He also advised Israel “not to pin hope on the U.S. It comes too late when you have already been annihilated”. View More 24 November 2019 France’s defence minister announced that “the command post [for a European maritime mission in the Gulf] will be based in Emirati territory”. She remarked that “we hope... to contribute to a navigation that is as safe as possible in a zone which we know is disputed and where there has already been a certain number of serious incidents”. View More 23 November 2019 A senior U.S. defence official met with Bahrain’s King and “reaffirm[ed] the longstanding defence relationship between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Bahrain”, while underlining that “the U.S. and Bahrain are equally concerned about the threat posed to Bahrain and the broader region by Iranian malign activity, and to that end, are supportive of U.S. efforts to ensure a strong force posture in the region”. The U.S. official also “expressed deep appreciation for the support Bahrain provides the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Kingdom and their participation in the International Maritime Security Construct”. View More 23 November 2019 Discussing the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie stressed that “Iran has been hindering freedom of navigation in and around the Strait of Hormuz over the past few months… Had Iran not undertaken those actions, had there been no threat to freedom of navigation, there might not have been a need for the IMSC”. “Since it has been operational”, McKenzie observed, “none of these actions have occurred”. He also remarked that “unfortunately, sometimes, the Iranian regime has proved itself to be the bully in the neighbourhood. The only way to stand up to a bully is to do it together”. McKenzie also opined that while Iran “may control the next step on the escalation ladder... I do not believe that even Iran conceives that they own the last step on the escalation ladder. And that is point that we should hold”. View More 22 November 2019 A senior Iranian military official warned that “any trespassing into Islamic Republic of Iran’s air space will bring nothing for them [ie, Iran’s enemies] except humiliation”. In related comments, a senior IRGC official insisted that “Washington has to act responsibly in protecting and not endangering the lives of American soldiers by avoiding any mistakes in the region, specifically in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz”. View More 21 November 2019 Discussing the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group’s transit through the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. Secretary of Defense Esper posited that “we've been trying to send messages on a number of fronts to a variety of audiences. One, it should be an assurance to our allies and partners that the U.S. … has a robust presence in the theatre, both, you know, on the sea, on the ground and in the air, number one; number two, it asserts, again, the freedom of navigation, the freedom of -- of commerce through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf; number three, it should deter the Iranians from provocative bad behavior”. “That's what the demonstration of not just the Abe [ie, USS Lincoln], but other U.S. ships and vessels transiting the region”, he added. View More 20 November 2019 Iran’s naval chief indicated that “due to the current special security conditions in the Red Sea region, and insecurities caused by terrorist activities that threaten our shipping lines, the Iranian Navy has been giving serious attention to this region as an insecure body of water”. He also tallied that “we have so far dispatched 64 fleets to international waters to defend the country’s interests”. View More 19 November 2019 The U.S. navy announced that “the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group completed a scheduled transit through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Arabian Gulf”. View More 16 November 2019 During a visit to the UAE, a senior U.S. military official asserted that “here in the Gulf we face a common adversary [ie, Iran] that seems committed to malign behaviour across the region”, adding that “the reaction time for an Iranian ballistic missile attack to the northern most point in the Arabian Gulf is single digit minutes. And no one country has everything you need to defend itself”. The official went on to contend that “when a missile or a UAV is in route from Iran, can we agree that is not the time to start reconciling past grievances. That time is now, today… together have exactly what we need for collective defence”. View More 15 November 2019 Discussing U.S. interests in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarked that “one is to ensure to the maximum extent possible that terrorism doesn’t reach our shores from those places. Second, we have clearly demarcated that we believe the primary driver of instability in the region is the Islamic Republic of Iran. They’re the world’s largest state sponsor of terror”. “They’re on a path which will put them in a place which they’ll be closer to having a capability that puts millions and millions of people at risk”, Pompeo added. He went on to state that “we’ve taken those twin imperatives. Lay over that the commercial interests that are in the straits – not only the Strait of Hormuz, but the Strait of Bosporus… this all comes together”. View More 14 November 2019 IRGC Commander Hossein Salami contended that “we will never stop increasing the defence capabilities and we will not retreat because it is among our redlines and therefore, the issue of defence capabilities is not negotiable, modifiable, stoppable and controllable”. He maintained that “the talent and capacity of the Iranian Armed Forces and the IRGC are so high that they will confront any enemy, no matter how big, and therefore, the nation should rest assured and live in tranquility because we are capable of defeating any enemy”. “Given the successful mounting of ballistic missiles on [IRGC] speedboats”, he added, “the enemy’s aircraft carriers will no longer be safe in any spot”. Salami additionally noted that “we currently possess precision-guided missiles” and vowed that negotiations over Iran’s missiles “will never happen”. View More 14 November 2019 Iran’s army chief maintained that “we need an interregional security and not false coalitions. It is time to drive foreign forces out of the region”. “The security in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf region can only be achieved through cooperation of the Persian Gulf littoral states… developments in recent years have shown that foreign powers cannot be reliable for regional countries”, he added. View More 13 November 2019 U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper remarked that “since the [14 September] Saudi Aramco attacks that were sponsored by Iran occurred, we flew – we flowed additional forces into the region… [It] seems like we've seen a downtick with regard to Iranian actions, and that's a good thing, too”. He further underlined that “we are postured to defend ourselves, to help defend our allies and partners, and to defend the international rules-based order in the region, and the Iranians should not mistake our restraint for weakness. We are prepared to act as need be, and will act to defend those things”. “The reason why we haven't increased presence in the region”, Esper added, “is not just to do that, but to signal to them that the path forward is through diplomacy, not military action, and the door remains open to sit down with them anytime, anywhere to discuss the way forward diplomatically”. View More 7 November 2019 A UK official announced that “UK-flagged ships will soon be able to transit the Strait of Hormuz without close Royal Naval accompaniment, following a decrease in the specific risk of detention of these vessels”. View More 7 November 2019 The U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct inaugurated the Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel headquarters in Bahrain. A senior U.S. naval official characterised the operation as “an important multinational maritime effort to increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East to ensure freedom of navigation in light of recent events in the Arabian Gulf”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson subsequently contended that “history shows that the American coalitions have been nothing but misnomers, which have not only not created security so far, but have resulted in further insecurity and instability in different parts of the world… the U.S. move to hide its objectives and dreams behind the names of a few other countries signifies the weakness and lack of international legitimacy”. “As the country with the longest coastline by the Persian Gulf”, he added, “the Islamic Republic of Iran will vigorously keep protecting its economic and security interests, including the navigation security and safety in the body of water”. View More 2 November 2019 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson indicated that President Rouhani had sent GCC leaders the Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) proposal presented at the UN General Assembly in September 2019. “In the letter, he called for collective cooperation among all of them in processing and implementing” the plan, the spokesperson added, while further stating that “this shows the Islamic Republic of Iran’s seriousness and that it cares about the regional countries when it comes to ensuring stability and security in the Persian Gulf region”. View More 1 November 2019 Albania signed on to the International Maritime Security Construct, joining six other countries in the U.S.-led initiative. View More 1 November 2019 The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, reiterated that “we are sanctioning Iran on an almost weekly basis and there is still plenty left for us to do… we are essentially putting the Iranian regime on the horns of a dilemma. They can either spend money on guns in Syria or butter in Iran. And we are putting them in a position where it becomes very hard for them to keep spending the billions that they used to in places like Syria”. Citing the attacks against tankers off the UAE coast in May 2019 and Aramco facilities in September 2019, Hook also contended that some countries “fear that if they identify Iran as the aggressor, that it will somehow escalate tensions. It will have the exact opposite effect. And so what I’ve been advising countries around the world is to, you have to identify Iran by name… that is part of the diplomatic isolation”. He additionally posited “that the U.S. pressure campaign has hit a nerve with the Iranian regime. And so they’re lashing out, but they’re doing it in very dangerous and escalatory ways that I think are going to backfire on the regime”. View More 15 October 2019 Foreign Minister Zarif praised Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan “for his efforts toward peace in the Persian Gulf”. He also called on “colleagues in the leaderships of other regional states to join Iran in forging a blueprint for peace, security, stability and prosperity” through the Hormuz Peace Initiative. View More 14 October 2019 President Rouhani contended that “what happened in the Red Sea when our tanker was targeted [on 11 October] has caused problems that hopefully our investigations will soon reach a conclusion. What is certain is that a regime has done this with the help of some countries, how and when is not clear yet and we are finalising the investigations”. View More 13 October 2019 Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa remarked that “one-fifth of the world’s oil and gas supply is launched from the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and any threat to the freedom of navigation is therefore considered a disruption to world trade, a disturbance to oil prices and a challenge to the global order”. He further asserted that “the international community must come together to take firm steps to deter the aggressor, and oblige it to respect international maritime safety laws and treaties, in order to maintain international peace and security”. View More 13 October 2019 In a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Rouhani noted that “foreign interference will add to the insecurity. The first step to ease tensions in the region is to establish a cease-fire in Yemen and end attacks on the innocent Yemenis, and Iran supports any attempt in this regard”. He further argued that “to resolve regional issues, we require changing strategies towards political dialogue with goodwill, security-building and developing regional cooperation… relying on terrorists, the Zionist regime [i.e. Israel], and the U.S. has no fruit except for more tension and damages to Islamic countries and regional nations, and does not guarantee security for any country and the region”. Rouhani also stated that “sustainable security and peace in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz can only be achieved through the participation of regional states”, adding that “Iran is always ready for dialogue and cooperation with all countries in the region”. Rouhani went on to posit that “the U.S.’ request for negotiation without preconditions is not an honest move with sanctions in place… we are ready to negotiation within the framework of the JCPOA if sanctions are lifted”. View More 11 October 2019 Discussing U.S.-led maritime security initiatives, the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, indicated that “we have asked nations to contribute maritime and aviation assets so that we have more eyes on that area. The more people that we have there, it makes it harder for Iran to execute its operations against tankers and other things like they’ve done in the past, if they ever wanted to threaten to mine the Strait of Hormuz, which they’ve done in the past, take out oil tankers, capture oil tankers in other countries’ waters”. View More 11 October 2019 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson confirmed that an “Iranian tanker has sustained damages after being targeted twice, at half-hourly intervals, from a place near its shipping route in the east of the Red Sea” on 10 October. He also indicated that “over the past few months, other acts of sabotage have been launched against Iranian oil tankers in the Red Sea”. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani asserted that “piracy and evil deeds in international waterways, which are carried out with the aim of making commercial ships’ sailing insecure, will not go unanswered”. A senior Saudi official on 13 October disavowed any involvement, stating that “we did not engage in such behaviour at all. This is not how we operate… the story is still not complete. So let’s wait and find out what happened before we jump to conclusions”. View More 10 October 2019 In an article for a Kuwaiti newspaper, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote that “the destiny of people and nations in the Persian Gulf region is closely intertwined… security in that region cannot be divided. Either all in the region enjoy security or all are deprived of it”. He went on elaborate on Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour proposal as having “what it takes to realise lasting security in the region through intra-regional dialogue”, adding that “we have pinned our hopes on the implementation of this initiative and await positive reaction to the proposed plan by the regional countries”. View More 9 October 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo stated that “oil from the Adrian Darya 1 has been offloaded in Syria, proving that Iran lied to the UK and Gibraltar. This terrorist oil will fund Assad’s war and Iran’s sectarian violence”. He further asserted that “EU members should condemn this action, uphold the rule of law and hold Iran accountable”. View More 9 October 2019 An Iranian security official asserted that “the Persian Gulf does not accept microbial viruses like the fleet of Western countries’ warships… the message of all nations of the Persian Gulf region is that they [foreign fleets] should end their inauspicious presence so that the region becomes peaceful”. View More 7 October 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo spoke with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about “a variety of international security challenges, including Iran’s destabilising role in the Middle East and Turkey’s plans to potentially invade Syria”. View More 7 October 2019 Iran’s army chief declared that “we have maintained the security of the Persian Gulf for [the past] forty years and will continue to do so with full power after this, and will give a crushing response to any threat posed by the enemy at any level”. He went on to opine that “with help from other regional countries, this region could be the most secure region in the world”. View More 4 October 2019 A senior U.S. military official assessed with respect to the Iranians that “I don’t believe that they’re drawing back at all” since the 14 September attack against Saudi energy facilities, which he asserted was carried out to “send a signal and harass and provoke”. Referring to U.S.-led maritime security operations, the official indicated that “what [Operation] Sentinel seeks to do is shine a flashlight across that and make sure that if anything happens in the maritime, they will be exposed for that activity… we’ve created essentially a zone defence”. View More 2 October 2019 Secretary of State Pompeo contended that "the Iranian leadership is having to make difficult decisions about resource allocation inside of their own country. And we remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity to discuss with the Iranians the path forward". "President Trump has said repeatedly we are working every day to deter [Iran]", Pompeo continued, "with the maritime initiative that we have in the Strait of Hormuz, to de-escalate and to create opportunities for diplomacy. That's the approach that we have taken. It's the one that we'll continue to take". View More 30 September 2019 Iran’s military chief of staff remarked that “a sustainable and strong form of deterrence has been created in the face of enemy’s plot to carry out any act of aggression against the Islamic Iran and enemies have understood that the Islamic Iran enjoys the readiness, determination and courage and will not hesitate to defend its ideals, land and people”. He further stated that “Iran, as a superior regional power, recognises its responsibility for maintaining regional security and stability and plays a basic role in this regard”. Iran “does not think about... waging war and sowing insecurity and seeks calm and tranquillity through regional cooperation”, he added. View More 29 September 2019 A senior U.S. naval official was in Riyadh for discussions with Saudi counterparts on "our mutual efforts going forward to coordinate defence against provocation and attack". View More 28 September 2019 In his address to the UN General Assembly, Bahrain’s foreign minister remarked that “the adoption of the Iranian regime of transitional terrorism has created networks of terrorist organisations and extremist militias, located in many places and different parts of the world such as Syria, Yemen, North Africa, the countries of the Sahara and the Sahel, South America and others. This requires us to intensify our efforts and enhance collective cooperation in order to eliminate them and prevent their return in any form”. He also applauded “the decisive course taken by the friendly U.S. in confronting Iran and its affiliates in the region, through exerting maximum pressure and imposing strict sanctions”. He went on to assert that “global energy supplies and maritime navigation in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the region as a whole are severely threatened by the behaviour of the Iranian regime and its frequent targeting of commercial vessels in the region”, adding condemnation of the 14 September attacks on Saudi energy facilities “which Iran bears responsibility for”. View More 25 September 2019 In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Rouhani reaffirmed that “we remain committed to our promises in the [nuclear] deal. However, our patience has a limit”. He also declared that Iran would “never negotiate with an enemy that seeks to force Iran to surrender with the weapon of poverty, pressure and sanction… stop the sanctions so as to open the war for the start of negotiations”. Rouhani also asserted that “the security doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the maintenance of peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and providing freedom of movement in the Strait of Hormuz. Recent incidents have seriously endangered such security”. He went on to “invite all the countries directly affected by the developments in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz to the ‘Coalition for Hope’, meaning Hormuz Peace Endeavour”. “The security of the region shall be provided when American troops pull out”, Rouhani argued, further stating that “our region is on the edge of collapse, as a single blunder can fuel a big fire. We shall not tolerate the provocative intervention of foreigners… however, the alternative and proper solution for us is to strengthen consolidation among all the nations with common interests in the Persian Gulf and the Hormuz region”. Foreign Minister Zarif subsequently explained that the Hormuz Peace Endeavour involved “dialogue, confidence-building, freedom of navigation, energy security, non-aggression and non-intervention”. View More 24 September 2019 Iran’s military chief of staff declared that “we have repeatedly warned the enemies that if they invade this country… the result of this invasion will be captivity and defeat”. “We say to the neighboring countries that we have no enmity with you”, he added. “Countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Muslim countries that have lost their path and should side with Iran so that the regional security will be preserved”. View More 23 September 2019 An Iranian diplomat indicated that “the British-flagged tanker ‘Stena Impero’, pursuant to the completion of the judicial and legal process, is now free to leave”. In a statement the following day, the CEO of Stena Bulk said that “despite public statements by Iranian authorities… that judicial proceedings have concluded, and the Stena Impero is free to leave Iran, the vessel remains detained at anchor in Bandar Abbas”. View More 23 September 2019 President Rouhani stated that “we seek mass cooperation within the Persian Gulf region for regional security, and we want all countries in the region to participate " in Iran’s “Hormuz Peace Initiative”. View More 22 September 2019 President Rouhani declared that “we extend the hand of friendship to all our neighbours at this critical juncture. To do so, we are ready to even forgive their past mistakes, because we are in conditions that the enemies of the region, especially the U.S., imperialism and Zionism are seeking to take advantage of division”. He added that “our logic is based on self-ensuring security for the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, and the presence of foreign forces in this region can cause problems”. Rouhani also indicated that “we are going to propose an initiative in the UN that is based on the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman with the help of regional countries”. View More 20 September 2019 U.S. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper asserted that “in recent months, Iran has increased its military activity through direct attacks and support to its proxies in the region”, adding that “all indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack” against Saudi energy facilities on 14 September. Esper announced that “in response to the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia’s] request, the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces, which will be defensive in nature and primarily focussed on air and missile defence. We will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend themselves”. View More 19 September 2019 The UAE signed on to the U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct. View More 18 September 2019 Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Ali Shamkhani, stated that “Iran’s strategic policy is to reduce tensions, avoid any conflict and resolve regional crises through dialogue. However, the country is fully prepared to monitor any intention or attempt to attack the Islamic Republic or its interests and will surprise aggressors most severely through a crushing and comprehensive response to possible evil actions”. View More 17 September 2019 Saudi Arabia signed on the U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct. View More 16 September 2019 President Rouhani told his Turkish counterpart that “guaranteeing the security of the Persian Gulf waterways, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz has always been important for Iran as the largest littoral state”. Rouhani added that “the security of regional waterways has to be protected only by its littoral states, and that the presence of U.S. forces and them inviting other countries to be present in the region will only increase the existing problems and tensions”. View More 15 September 2019 A senior IRGC commander warned that “all American bases and their vessels in a distance of up to 2,000km [from Iran borders] are within the range of our missiles”. He went to say that “we have constantly prepared ourselves for a full-fledged war”. View More 12 September 2019 The U.S. State Department's spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, stated that “we have seen reports that the Iranian vessel Adrian Darya, formally Grace 1, remains anchored off the shores of Syria, which we’ve been saying was its intended destination all along. Now we’ve seen firsthand the Iranian regime renege on its assurances to the EU that the vessel would not transport oil to the murderous Assad regime”. Ortagus added that “this fits into the web of lies perpetrated by the Iranian regime for 40 years”, further noting that “despite the revolutionary promises of a better society, the thugs in Tehran have consistently repressed women, minorities and human rights advocates”. View More 12 September 2019 In China, Iran’s military chief of staff stated that “Iran is fully ready under the current circumstances to defend its security and interests in the Persian Gulf”. He further argued that “history shows that we have never initiated [an act of] aggression or a war and will not do so, but we will firmly defend our security and sovereignty in case of any aggression or intervention by foreigners”. View More 11 September 2019 The Arab Quartet Ministerial Committee for Follow-up of the Crisis with Iran and Response to its Interventions in Arab Internal Affairs, chaired by the UAE and including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, “condemned Iran's continued support for terrorist and subversive acts in the Arab countries, including the continued firing of Iranian-made ballistic missiles from Yemeni territory into populated cities in the Kingdom”. It also denounced remarks by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s as “intended to provoke sedition and incite hatred; and which is an extension of the dangerous role of this terrorist party, which is considered as one of the arms of Iran aiming to destabilise the security and stability in the region”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson responded that “the rehash of groundless accusations against [Iran’s] eternal ownership of its three islands in the Persian Gulf and the blame game by some Arab countries whose regional policies have failed are… the reason behind their failure to understand the realities of the region and the world”. He went on to say that “it is regrettable that some, instead of relying on the power of Persian Gulf states, make divergent, unfounded and undocumented allegations about the security of the region and welcome foreigners with their desperation”. View More 10 September 2019 National Security Advisor John Bolton asserted that “now that we’re two weeks from the UN General Assembly, you can be sure Iran is working overtime on deception. Let’s review the greatest hits, starting with the most recent. Iran denied the Adrian Darya 1 was headed to Syria, then confirmed today its oil was offloaded there”. View More 8 September 2019 Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson announced that “the Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast and unloaded its cargo despite acts of sabotage by the U.S.”. He further underscored that “we had already announced that we would sell our oil in any way and that acts of sabotage would not affect our plans”. View More 6 September 2019 U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted imagery showing the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya-1 off the Syrian coast and stated that “anyone who said the Adrian Darya 1 wasn’t headed to Syria is in denial. Tehran thinks it’s more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people”. He contended that “we can talk, but Iran’s not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror!” View More 4 September 2019 The Swedish government confirmed “the release of some of the crew members of Swedish-owned and UK-flagged Stena Impero”, which Iran detained in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July. View More 30 August 2019 The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned “Adrian Darya 1, an oil tanker transporting 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil ultimately benefitting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force”, as well as its captain. Secretary of State Pompeo advised that “any who would consider supporting the IRGC should heed this warning”, adding that “non-U.S. persons who knowingly provide significant goods, services, or support to the individuals and entities designated today may themselves face sanctions consequences”. Pompeo also indicated that “the U.S. will continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until it changes its behaviour”. National Security Advisor John Bolton commented that “sanctions are serious, and so is captaining a vessel engaged in illicit activity. Let this be a lesson to anyone tempted to support moving Iranian oil destined for Assad’s murderous regime”. On 31 August Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif contended that the “U.S. engages in piracy and threats to prevent Iran from selling oil to traditional customers”. “Stop nagging Secretary Pompeo”, Zarif added. “We will sell oil to any and all buyers”. View More 28 August 2019 U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo met with Saudi Deputy Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman and “reiterated U.S. support for a negotiated resolution between the Republic of Yemen government and the Southern Transitional Council”. They additionally discussed “the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation [and] the Iranian regime’s destabilising activities in the region”. View More 26 August 2019 U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton called for “all hands on deck in the campaign to stop Iran from funding terror, destabilising the globe, and breaking international sanctions. Tthe illicit oil heading to Turkey on the Adrian Darya 1 must not be allowed [to be] off-loaded in port or at sea”. An Iranian official announced that the ship’s cargo had been purchased by an undisclosed buyer, adding that “I don’t know its destination”. View More 25 August 2019 A senior Iranian military official argued that “in our view, [the] formation of any coalition in the region without the participation of regional countries would create tensions… therefore, anyone joining the [U.S.-led maritime] coalition is considered to have made a hostile act against the Islamic Republic”. View More 23 August 2019 Foreign Minister Zarif stated that “the U.S. has exacerbated tension in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Freedom of navigation is a global responsibility and the U.S. is committing piracy, in Gibraltar, with the help of some of its friends elsewhere”. He went on to say that “we are engaged in a war. It’s an economic war that the U.S. has imposed on Iran… I believe the U.S. should be pressured by the rest of the international community to abandon its policy of pressure and intimidation. It won’t work”. View More 22 August 2019 Foreign Minister Zarif declared that “it’s clear that the U.S.’ intention… [of having a] naval presence in the Persian Gulf is to counter Iran”. “Don’t expect us to remain quiet when somebody comes to our waters and threatens us”, Zarif added.