Germany Will Not Join US Naval Mission in Strait of Hormuz
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; posted July 31, 2019)
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany will not be taking part in a US-led naval mission to secure oil tanker ships sailing near Iran. The move comes after Washington formally urged Berlin to join the mission.

Germany will not participate in a naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz that is led by the United States, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday.

"Germany will not take part in the sea mission presented and planned by the United States," Maas told reporters during a trip to Poland.

In explaining the decision, Maas said that the German government believes the US strategy of exercising "maximum pressure" against Iran "is wrong."

He added that Berlin wants to avoid further escalating the situation in the region and that the government wants to focus on a diplomatic solution to current tensions with Iran, emphasizing that "there is no military solution."

Germany had already expressed skepticism about the mission, but had yet to reject it.

Earlier on Wednesday, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Germany was "examining" the requests, but indicated that Berlin was unlikely to join.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, considered to be a front-runner to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that Berlin is committed to rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which is threatening to collapse after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord.

US, UK propose Gulf missions

The announcement came after the US formally requested Germany and other European allies take part in the mission, which it says is needed to protect shipping routes in the Strait of Hormuz.

Almost a third of all oil exports pass through the waterway, which is located between Iran and Oman.

Washington proposed the mission earlier this month, saying it was trying to get a coalition together to offer military escorts to commercial ships in the Gulf.

Last week, the UK said it wanted to create a European-led mission in the Gulf to ensure the safe travel of cargo. Several EU states showed interest in the British proposal, which could potentially compliment US efforts in the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions on rise

The move came in response to Iran seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker and its 23 crew members as it passed through the Strait on July 19.

Tensions between Iran and Europe have been increasing over Iran's decision to abandon parts of the 2015 nuclear deal that restricted its nuclear program.

Relations between the US and Iran have also worsened in recent months. Washington has blamed Tehran over a string of tanker attacks, while both countries claim to have shot down drones belonging to the other state in the past several weeks.

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