New Zealand says has no boats to send to Strait of Hormuz

August 21, 2019

TEHRAN – New Zealand's defense minister says while no formal request for assistance was made, Britain approached New Zealand about whether it had any capacity to help.

"I've said right now both of my frigates are in Canada undergoing refit. We don't actually have any capabilities available," Ron Mark told reporters on Wednesday, according to New Zealand Herald.

Britain asked New Zealand whether it could help patrol the Strait of Hormuz following the seizure of oil tankers by Iran, but we didn't have any boats to send, the minister of defense said.

Mark’s statements came as Australia's government on Wednesday announced it was joining a United States-led effort to allegedly protect shipping lanes in the waters between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, a move which has called “provocative”.

Tensions in the region rose after Iran in July seized two oil tankers, shortly after the UK had seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.

"The bottom line that I can barely struggle to keep two P3s [surveillance aircraft] flying ... I just don't see that we have any spare capability right now to engage in that kind of a mission."

He said, “If we did have the capacity, Cabinet would have to discuss the matter and that no official request had been put in.”

"Everything else is hypothetical beyond that point," Mark said.

National Party foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee described the admission as embarrassing and said New Zealand needed to join the effort, one way or the other.

"This is simply not good enough. New Zealand's defense force can offer its partners a range of skills and assets in a multilateral effort such as this," he said.

"Just as oil and other goods destined for Australia moves through the Strait of Hormuz, so too does oil and goods destined for New Zealand."

He applauded Australia's effort, saying the clock was now ticking for New Zealand.

Tensions in the region have escalated rapidly in recent months amid Iran's increasing frustration that it is not seeing the economic benefits of a 2015 agreement to limit its nuclear program.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled America out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions last year. To strangulate the Iranian economy, the Trump administration has even banned total ban on Iran’s oil exports.

SP/PA

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