- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Pentagon is crafting a multinational plan to stop further Iranian attacks on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere in the region, top military officials said Tuesday, detailing the international community’s approach to ensure oil tankers and other vessels can move safely.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters the U.S. is actively seeking other nations to partner in the plan. Initially, he said the U.S. would provide “maritime domain awareness,” or intelligence and surveillance assistance, in the region.

The U.S. military would not escort commercial ship through the dangerous waters off Iran’s coast, though officials suggested that ultimately other nations could provide their own escort ships.

“We’re getting ready now to move out,” Gen. Dunford said. “We have a pretty clear concept of what we want to do.”

“This will be scalable. So, with a small number of contributors, we can have a small mission, and we’ll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves,” he said.

Gen. Dunford, acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly discussed the plan on Tuesday.

The move comes after Iran carried out a series of limpet mine attacks against commercial oil ships in the waters off its coast. Those attacks drew sharp international condemnation and raised fears that Iran was ramping up a campaign to stop countries from shipping oil through the Strait of Hormuz and other key channels.

Iran’s aggressive actions came after the Trump administration imposed a global embargo on Iranian oil — part of its “maximum pressure” campaign to starve Tehran’s economy.

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