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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

While Kerry cuddles with Zarif, Iran goes to work in the Strait of Hormuz

US Secretary of State John Kerry and chief 'negotiator' Wendy Sherman became the first US officials to set foot on Iranian soil since 1979 on Monday, when they popped into the Iranian Ambassador to the UN's New York office for a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Iran's response? Lots of 'goodwill.' And the seizure of a Marshall Islands-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Pentagon said at least five Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy patrol vessels approached the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk Tigris cargo ship at 4 a.m. eastern time as it was transiting the Straight of Hormuz and directed the ship to proceed further into Iranian waters.
When the ship’s master declined, the Iranian ship fired shots across the bridge of the cargo vessel, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said. After shots were fired, the ship proceeded into Iranian waters near the vicinity of Larak Island. It was boarded by members of the Iranian coast guard and is now being held in Iranian waters with about 30 people aboard.
The Maersk Tigris issued a distress call, prompting U.S. Naval Forces Central Command to send the U.S. destroyer Farragut to the site as well as aircraft to observe the interaction, Col. Warren said. The destroyer is currently on the way, with no clear timetable of when it will arrive on the scene.
The U.S. assets are being sent to “monitor the situation,” Col. Warren said. Naval Forces Central Command have been communicating with representatives from the shipping company, he said.
The shipping route through the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, but ships typically pass through with no issues under rules of innocent passage, which allow ships to pass through as long as they follow international law.
There are no Americans aboard the cargo ship and currently no injuries reported among the crew, Col. Warren said. It is unclear what sort of cargo the ship is carrying.
It should be an interesting briefing at the State Department today.... What could go wrong?

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