Acting US Secretary of Defence calls on Norway
Acting US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, believes countries such as Norway have good reason to join the coalition The Trump administration is attempting to forge, ostensibly to secure shipping in the Persian Gulf.
“I would assume that Norway and other countries want to avoid new attacks from Iran or its proxies,” acting US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, tells NTB.
He points to that two ships connected to Norway have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
“I believe that regional partners in the area and countries outside the region, who rely on freedom of navigation through this strait and this bay of commerce, have very good reason to join us in expressing opposition, condemning Iran’s behaviour and encouraging Iran to return to the negotiating table. Further, to the extent that they possess the capacity, in assisting us in the efforts we are now investigating to deter from further Iranian aggression,” Esper continues.
Esper attends the NATO Defence Ministerial meeting in Brussels, just days after he was appointed as acting US Secretary of Defence. There he discusses the situation with his allies, including the Norwegian Minister of Defence, Frank Bakke-Jensen (Conservatives).
The Trump administration proposes an international coalition to ensure unencumbered navigation through the Hormuz Strait and the Gulf of Oman.
“Everything from surveillance of the sea lanes and airspace, to ships that can offer protection and possibly also escort civilian vessels, is needed in such an endeavour,” Esper explains.
Additionally, The United States asks its allies to show support by publicly denouncing Iran’s «bad behaviour» in the Gulf region.
“it will take a lot before Norway uses military force to defend Norwegian economic interests around the world,” Bakke-Jensen stated in advance of the ministerial meeting.
The tune is quite different after the meeting.
“If there is a request, then we will take part in a discussion regarding it, as it is about securing maritime traffic in international waters,” the Minister of Defence asserts now.
He emphasizes that a coalition to ensure safe shipping is something completely different from «invading Iran to create calm there».
“It is important that the international community ensures that international law is maintained, in this field as well. I believe that it can be a very good reason to get together in a coalition to achieve something,” he adds.
US President Donald Trump has suggested that the initiative may also be economically motivated.
Trump tweets that most of the oil transported through the Strait of Hormuz goes to countries such as China and Japan.
“Why do we protect shipping routes for other countries (for many years) for zero compensation. All these countries should protect their own ships?” he tweets.
The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most trafficked sea lanes in the world. More than 25 per cent of the world’s seaborne crude oil is transported through it.
Two Norwegian tankers allegedly attacked by Iran
On Sunday, May 12th, the Norwegian-registered tanker Andrea Victory was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Another alleged attack on Thursday, June 13th affected the Frontline-owned tanker Front Altair.
The Trump administration accuses Iranian forces of being behind both attacks. This is rejected by Iran. The accusation is also doubted by many, given the circumstances.
Esper informs that the Allies will receive detailed information about what the US claims to know. He, simultaneously, accuses the Iranian regime of «spreading chaos and conflict in the Middle East for forty years».
“But, let me be clear. The United States does not want war with Iran,” the acting Secretary of Defence concludes.
About acting US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper
Mark Thomas Esper (born April 26, 1964) is a former American corporate executive and military veteran.
He is currently serving as Acting United States Secretary of Defence.
Esper served as the 23rd United States Secretary of the Army from 2017 to 2019.
Prior to his current position, he served as Vice President of government relations at Raytheon, a major US defence contractor.
During his time at Raytheon, Esper was recognized as a top corporate lobbyist by The Hill in 2015 and in 2016.
Secretary of Defence
US President Donald Trump announced on June 18th, 2019, that Esper would become acting Secretary of Defence, succeeding acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Before Shanahan withdrew his name from consideration for the position, Esper had been considered a leading candidate for the nomination, had the Senate declined to confirm Shanahan.
Esper assumed the office on June 24th, and Trump intends to nominate him to serve in a permanent capacity.
Esper is thus added to the long list of unconfirmed members of the Trump administration
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today