By staff and agency

Australia does not agree with Washington’s stand on Iran: diplomat

September 2, 2019

Australian Ambassador to Russia Graeme Meehan has said that Canberra’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf does not mean that the country agrees with Washington’s stand on Iran.

“We are quite careful to say that our participation in the maritime action to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz doesn’t mean that we agree with all the actions that United States are taking in relation to the nuclear deal. Of course, the two things are connected, but there are also differences, and I think that is the same for some of the European countries that are considering participating in the maritime act. The European countries don’t generally agree with the United States’ action of pulling out of the nuclear deal,” Sputnik quoted him as saying on Monday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on August 21 that Canberra will take part in the U.S.-led coalition.

“The government has decided that it is in Australia’s national interest to work with our international partners to contribute. Our contribution will be limited in scope and it will be time-bound,” Aljazeera quoted Morrison as saying.

The United States has called on its European and Asian allies to form a maritime force to supposedly monitor safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf.

So far, only Britain, Israel, Australia and Bahrain have agreed to join the coalition.

At least 15 percent of crude oil and up to 30 percent of refined oil destined for Australia transits through the Persian Gulf.

The friction is rooted in U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in May 2018 to unilaterally withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 between world powers and Iran.

Since then, the U.S. has reinstated sweeping sanctions against Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign and has also beefed up its military presence in the region.

The tensions escalated in May, when the U.S. accused Iran of sabotaging  tankers in the shipping route, allegations vehemently denied by Iran.

NA/PA

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