Australia joins US-led coalition to protect shipping in the gulf

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would provide a frigate a P8 maritime surveillance aircraft and support staff to the mission

Australia to join US military effort to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz

Australia has agreed to a U.S. request to join a coalition of countries protecting oil tankers and cargo ships from attack by Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emphasized that his country's involvement will be "modest, meaningful and time limited".

Canberra says it will send one surveillance aircraft to the strait for a month, as well as a fast patrol ship for six months.

Besides this "limited" contribution, Canberra also agreed to provide intelligence and other assistance, as the United States faces an uphill battle trying to muster support for its "maritime policing" initiative.

This mission will see the Australian Defence Force work alongside its global partners to assure the security of merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Islamic Republic, meanwhile, believes the U.S. is simply trying to enforce its unilateral oil sanctions through military pressure after failing to do it via political extortion.

"We support the concept of an global maritime presence in the region that would enable the worldwide community to respond to incidents and threats as they occur to ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce", he said.

The move follows a spate of incidents - including the seizure of ships - involving Iran and Western powers, in particular Britain and the USA, centred on the vital Gulf channel. The United States has blamed Iran for the incidents.

There will be about 200 Australians involved in the operation, with 177 Defence personnel on the warship and 10 on the surveillance aircraft.

US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions previous year.

Morrison said his cabinet's decision was based on the need to respond to a potential threat to the national economy. Iran is expected to communicate its position of opposing a US -led coalition to protect shipping in the strait from Iranian military forces. US President Donald Trump has been trying to mount a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Tehran since he withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 deal placing curbs on Iran's nuclear programme and began reimposing sanctions, urging reluctant Western allies to follow suit.

Since then, Gibraltar officials released the Iranian tanker last week on the promise it would not travel to Syria.

The area has been a hotspot in recent months of rising tensions between the Unites States and Iran, with drones shot down and oil tankers bombed.

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