Britain on Monday joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels travelling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel.
The U,K’s royal navy will supply two warships alongside two U.S. warships and will jointly patrol one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
British officials stressed that there was no change to London’s policy on Iran but joining the United States is the most significant non-Brexit foreign policy move to date of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 12-day-old government.
“Our aim is to build the broadest international support to uphold international navigation,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
Just two weeks ago, Britain was calling for a European-led naval mission. The U.K., however, has become the only European country to have joined the mission and has urged others to follow suit.
European powers Germany and France have refused to join the U.S.-led mission, uncertain as to whether it will further damage the strained nuclear deal that the U.S. has pulled out of and which Iran has begun to breach.
The U.K.’s decision to join the new mission follows heightened tensions between Iran after royal navy marines detained an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for illegal transferring oil to Syria and Iran’s revolutionary guards corp detaining a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas.