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Old 07-20-2019, 01:17 PM
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Arrow Pentagon sees high risk of ‘unintended conflict’ with Iran

Pentagon sees high risk of ‘unintended conflict’ with Iran
By: Joel Gehrke - Washington Examiner - 7-20-19

U.S. military officials see a high risk of “unintended conflict” with Iran due to rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, according to top Pentagon official.

“The potential for miscalculation is high,” John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said at the Aspen Security Forum. “This kind of friction in a small waterway starts to increase the possibility of unintended conflict.”

Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker on Friday, the latest threat to international shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz in a standoff that has intensified since early May, when President Trump tightened sanctions on the regime’s oil industry and nuclear program.

“I do worry — either through intention and misunderstanding our resolve, or, through an accident — that we could see the Iranians take some step that would be very concerning,” Rood added during a Saturday afternoon question-and-answer session. “That would be a grave mistake on their part that would be — it’s something that we are studiously trying to avoid.”

Iranian forces surrounded a British tanker and boarded it from a helicopter one day after U.S. forces downed an Iranian drone that approached to “within a threatening range” of a Navy shipper. The boarding of the British tanker was an apparent reaction to last month’s detention of an Iranian tanker that was reportedly delivering oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

“It raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping, and indeed international shipping, in the Strait of Hormuz,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday.

Iran has targeted several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf since May, as Tehran and Washington jockey for leverage in advance of a prospective negotiation over Iran’s nuclear program in the wake of Trump’s exit from the 2015 nuclear deal.

"Iran is suffering tremendously under the weight of US sanctions that are destroying its economy and stymieing development goals shared by numerous political factions,” Borzou Daragahi, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, explained Friday. “It wants to make sure the world feels its pain, and clearly trying to ratchet up tensions by spooking the US and its allies. In the view of Tehran, the EU and UK were getting the benefits of the [nuclear deal] without shouldering any of the burdens.”

Trump’s renewal of sanctions on Iran has “had a very salutary effect in the military realm,” Rood said, despite Tehran’s provocative response, insofar as the regime has slashed its military budget due to the economic pressure. He added that the Pentagon is coordinating with “a series of countries” to ensure that the Straits remain open to international shipping.

“We will have not only US military assets involved, but those of many other countries to allow for that,” he said.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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