OTTAWA – Canada has no plans to contribute a ship to Britain’s nascent naval coalition to defend international shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, where its tense dispute with Iran develops.
But Britain is seeking Canada’s vocal support for the deal that Iran reached with other Western powers to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, The Canadian Press has learned.
The decision of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement he forged with his fellow members of the United Nations Security Council (Great Britain, France, China and Russia), as well as Germany , is widely seen as the spark for renewed tensions between Iran and the west.
These tensions increased even more last Friday when Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero while transiting the narrow and strategically vital international waterway between Oman and Iran through which a fifth of the world’s oil is transported.
That followed the seizure of an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar from the British Royal Navy earlier this month on suspicion that it was violating sanctions against Syria.
The confrontation is a major international crisis for the new British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The government of its predecessor, Theresa May, announced plans in its last days to improvise a “European-led” force to protect international maritime transport.
“At this time we have not received any specific request from Britain regarding this issue,” said Todd Lane, a spokesman for Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Former Canadian navy commanders who have served in the region, as well as Middle Eastern analysts, say that is not necessarily a bad thing.
They say colder diplomatic leaders will be needed to solve the current crisis, and that a military build-up of Western warships in the Persian Gulf would only inflame tensions.
“At this time, it is very early in this situation, and I suspect that what the decision makers think is concern about an unnecessary escalation of the situation,” said Harry Harsch, who directed HMCS Fredericton on a separate mission. in the Persian Gulf in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq led by the United States.
Harsch, now vice president of the Canadian Navy League, conducted numerous missions in the Strait of Hormuz, where international borders meet.
“It’s a very scary place,” he said. “It is 21 miles wide. If you do the calculations, you take the 12-mile limit of Oman and the 12-mile limit of Iran, guess what? They cross.”
Bessma Momani, an analyst at the University of Waterloo in the Middle East, said it would be important for Canada to join a coalition with its European allies, if asked.
“However, there are risks with this, as an aggressive populist takes over the United Kingdom, under the command of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who sees the relationship in the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and we are entangled in a wider conflict between the United States, the United Kingdom and Iran. ” she said.
But a senior British official, who informed The Canadian Press about the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the current dispute, said the focus is on the “European allies” when it comes to building their naval coalition. Britain has held talks with France and Germany, the official said.
A senior representative of the British army was in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday for “an international power generation conference,” but the senior official stressed that the effort was separated from the renewed US pressure campaign on Iran.
The official stressed that Canadian diplomatic assistance is still necessary to help solve the problem.
This is because Britain believes that the nuclear agreement is the best defense against Iran that eventually obtains nuclear weapons and for regional stability, the official said. Canada also has military forces in neighboring Iraq, where it leads a NATO training mission of local forces.
“We support diplomatic and constructive approaches to this situation and we are working closely with our allies and partners on this important issue,” said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a statement sent by email.
“With respect to the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (the Iran nuclear agreement), Canada remains concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and calls on Iran to fulfill its commitments under the agreement.”
The British official said they were allowed to speak to counter Iran’s misinformation about the current stalemate. The function