American officials have denied media reports that a US cargo ship had been seized by the Iranian navy, according to the BBC.
But the situation could cause a problem for President Obama. Reports indicate the cargo ship was a Marshall Islands flagged vessel. The Marshall Islands is an independent republic, but one associated with the United States, which provides for its defense. A U.S. warship and fighter jets were reportedly monitoring the situation.
The original report came from from Al-Arabiya TV, which is Saudi-owned and therefore would have incentive to paint Iran in the worst possible light. But it is still unclear at this point what has or hasn’t happened.
Nothing from the White House yet.
The situation, BTW, is potentially illustrative of what will be under the deal Obama is trying to strike with the Iranians, which will allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons if it chooses in 10-15 years. What will we do when a nuclear-armed Iran begins seizing ships in the Gulf?
Maybe file a complaint to the UN. Start a task force. Issue a Fatwa. Whatever.
Here is the latest from CNN:
Iran Revolutionary Guard patrol boats intercepted a commercial cargo ship, the M/V Maersk Tigris, which was crossing the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday morning, according to a senior U.S. military official.
Despite reports in some media, there are no Americans on board, the official said.
The ship, a Marshall Islands flagged vessel, was transiting the Strait into the Persian Gulf on an internationally recognized maritime route when the the Iranian military contacted the vessel and directed the ship master to “divert further into Iranian Waters,” according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren.
“The master initially declined and one of the IRGCN (Iranian mlitary) patrol craft fired shots across the Maersk Tigris’ bow. The master then complied and diverted under escort by the IRGCN vessels,” said Warren.
After the shots were fired, the Tigris issued a distress call which was picked up by U.S. forces in the area and the USS Farragut was ordered to head towards the incident. The closest U.S. warship was 60 miles from the incident.
The U.S. Navy has also sent aircraft to monitor the status.
According to the shipping company, which is in contact with the U.S. military, the Iranian military has boarded the ship.
This piece will be updated.