President Trump has tightened economic sanctions on Iran, as he attempts to pressure them into negotiating new limits on their nuclear program. In response to Trump’s tightening sanctions on them, Iranian leaders are ratcheting up the tension in the Persian Gulf.
The Wall Street Journal reports – Even as Washington and Tehran both insist they don’t want a war, recent incidents have raised fears of a miscalculation that could lead to a wider armed conflict in the Middle East.
Last week, Iranian forces seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, as mounting tensions between Tehran and the West risked further disruption of commercial shipping in the strategically vital waterway.
A second vessel, this one British managed, was boarded by armed Iranian personnel in the Persian Gulf on Friday and later freed, its U.K. managers and a British shipping official said.
Now, Fox News reports that Iran has successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile Wednesday which flew more than 600 miles from the southern part of the country to an area outside the capital, Tehran, in the north, a U.S. official told Fox News
“We are aware of reports of a projectile launched from Iran, and have no further comment at this time,” a senior administration official told Fox News Thursday evening.
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The test of the Shahab-3 comes amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the west.
Iran has held a British-flagged oil tanker and its 23 crew members captive since last week when the ship was seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian officials have said the action was in retaliation for Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this month.
Other incidents in past weeks have threatened security in the strait, through which one-fifth of all globally traded crude oil passes. Most prominently, Iranian forces shot down a U.S. surveillance drone of the Strait of Hormuz last month, claiming it had violated Iranian airspace.
The UK Mirror reports that earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he would go to Iran for talks if it was necessary.
He told Bloomberg TV: “Sure. If that’s the call, I’d happily go there … I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people.”
Secretary of State Pompeo also called on Britain, Japan, and other nations to join a US-led maritime force to protect international tankers and other ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
In a separate interview broadcast by Fox News, Mr. Pompeo said that Washington had already asked Britain, Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia, and other nations to join a planned maritime security initiative in the Middle East called Operation Sentinel.
“Every country that has an interest in ensuring that those waterways are open and crude oil and other products can flow through the Strait of Hormuz needs to participate,” Mr. Pompeo said.