Tuesday 20 August 2019

Netherlands asked to send frigate to protect British vessels in Hormuz

Photo of Dutch foreign affairs minister Stef Blok

Foreign affairs minister Stef Blok.

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.


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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