The Dutch government will decide next month whether to send a frigate to the Straits of Hormuz to protect British vessels from being targeted by Iran.
The defence ministry confirmed to RTL Nieuws that it had received a request from London to join a European fleet in the strait, which links the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is a key shipping lane.
Tensions in the region increased last week when Iranian forces seized an oil tanker, the Stena Imperio, as it passed through the strait. Iran said the ship had ignored a distress call from a fishing vessel, but also referred to Britain’s confiscation of an Iranian supertanker, Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar earlier in July.
Britain claims it detained Grace 1 because its 2.1 million barrels of oil were being transported to Syria, in defiance of international sanctions. Iran insists the vessel was heading to another, unnamed, port in the Mediterranean.
The Dutch defence ministry said on Twitter at the weekend that it was “extremely concerned” about the confiscation of the British tanker and urged Iran to free the vessel and its crew as soon as possible. ‘The Netherlands is in solidarity with the British,” said the ministry.
Nederland is ernstig bezorgd over de inbeslagname van een schip in de Straat van #Hormuz. De vrije en ongehinderde doorvaart van schepen is van groot belang. Zaak dat #Iran het schip en de bemanning snel vrijlaat. Nederland is solidair met de Britten.
— Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (@MinBZ) July 20, 2019
A spokesman said a decision on whether to send a frigate, as requested by the UK, would be made in August once parliament returns from recess. The government wants MPs to debate the issue first, although the ministry will have the final say.
Foreign affairs minister Stef Blok said earlier that the Netherlands ‘absolutely does not want to get involved in a war with Iran.’
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