Washington’s decision to deploy a second carrier strike group in the Gulf, the EU’s attempt to pressure Iran economically could greatly increase the likelihood of all-out war in the region.EU strategy of averting "chaos in the Middle East" by tightening the economic noose around Iran could spark the very conflagration it was ostensibly trying to avert.
European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.But USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered carrier capable of embarking 90 aircraft, passed through this channel and entered the Gulf without incident yesterday. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate from the Royal Navy, was one of the escort vessels making up the carrier battle-group. A guided missile cruiser and two destroyers from the US Navy completed the flotilla, along with one warship from the French navy.All three countries retain a permanent military presence in the Gulf, but a joint passage through the Strait of Hormuz by all of their respective navies is highly unusual. The flotilla will have passed within a few miles of the Iranian coastline.
Diplomats in Brussels said the EU foreign ministers would officially adopt the measures later Monday that were hashed out by the 27 ambassadors.
The measures include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products while existing ones are allowed to run until July.
"I am confident that the EU will give a resolute answer today to Iran's refusal to fulfill its international obligations on the nuclear programme," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of the official adoption by the foreign ministers.Any bid by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil exports pass would be "illegal" and "unsuccessful", Mr Hague warned.