South Korea’s army mentioned on Tuesday it plans to increase the deployment of an anti-piracy unit now working off the coast of Africa to the realm across the Strait of Hormuz, after the USA pressed for assist to protect oil tankers.
Assaults on oil tankers within the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran final 12 months prompted U.S. officers to name for allies to affix a deliberate maritime safety mission.
As a key U.S. ally, South Korea has debated the prospect, and the choice to divert a navy unit already in operation southwest of Arabia comes as a compromise that won’t require contemporary parliamentary authorisation.
Whereas South Korea will deploy its forces to the realm, together with the Gulf, it won’t formally be becoming a member of a world coalition of forces, the defence ministry mentioned.
“The South Korean authorities determined to briefly increase the deployment of the Cheonghae army unit,” a ministry official informed reporters.
The step would guarantee the protection of residents and free navigation of South Korean vessels, he added.
The Cheonghae unit will proceed with its mission whereas it cooperates with the coalition, the ministry mentioned, including that the USA had been briefed on the choice, which was additionally defined to the Iranians individually.
The Strait of Hormuz is a busy passageway into the Gulf, with vessels crusing via it roughly 900 instances a 12 months for South Korea, which will get greater than 70% of its oil from the Center East, the defence ministry says.
The Cheonghae unit has been stationed within the Gulf of Aden since 2009, working to deal with piracy in partnership with African international locations in addition to the USA and the European Union.
The 302-strong unit operates a four,500-ton destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter and three velocity boats, South Korea’s 2018 defence white paper confirmed.
Amongst its operations have been the rescue of a South Korean ship and its crew in 2011, capturing eight suspected pirates and capturing 5 others within the incident.
The South Korean troops have additionally evacuated South Korean residents from Libya and Yemen, and as of November 2018 had escorted round 18,750 South Korean and worldwide vessels.
South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer and one among Iran’s main oil clients, stopped importing Iranian crude from Could after waivers of U.S. sanctions ended in the beginning of that month.