UK urges Australia to join US-led Persian Gulf operation

The UK has lobbied Australia to join a US-led operation to protect ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. So far the UK is the only country to join the US in the operation, although South Korea and Australia have said that they are considering the matter.

The UK previously had favoured an EU-led mission to escort vessels through the Persian Gulf, but changed direction swiftly when Jeremy Hunt ceased to be Foreign Secretary.

UK prime ministers Boris Johnson and his conservative counterpart Scott Morrison discussed the importance of international cooperation to protect shipping during a telephone. PM Morrison reaffirmed that Australia was still considering its position. The British request was directly made to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds on Sunday night when she spoke with her new counterpart Ben Wallace.

Senator Reynolds told reporters at Garden Island in Sydney last week that “I can reiterate that the Australian Government remains very concerned about the increased tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, and we are considering the American request, and also now the request from the United Kingdom, but we have not yet made any decision”.

As is likely to be the case with South Korea, any contribution is likely to be limited, for pure reasons of logistics. Australia’s contribution could be limited to sending an aircraft for reconnaissance and surveillance rather than a naval presence.

Dominic Raab said that “our aim is to build the broadest international support to uphold freedom of navigation in the region, as protected under international law”.