US nuclear submarine passes through Strait of Hormuz

US nuclear submarine passes through Strait of Hormuz
The USS Georgia nuclear submarine was accompanied by two cruisers as she passed through the Strait of Hormuz. (US Navy)
Short Url
Updated 21 December 2020

US nuclear submarine passes through Strait of Hormuz

US nuclear submarine passes through Strait of Hormuz
  • USS Georgia reaches Arabian Gulf in show of force against Iran

LONDON: A US Navy nuclear submarine passed through the Strait of Hormuz on Monday and entered the Arabian Gulf in the latest show of military strength from Washington in the region.

The USS Georgia, which can carry dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, was accompanied by two guided-missile cruisers, the US Navy said.

The narrow waters of the Strait of Hormuz separate Iran from the Arabian Peninsula and are the route through which a large quantity of the world’s crude oil supplies pass on ships. The strait has often been a flashpoint of regional tensions with Iran, with Tehran threatening to close the passage in previous escalations with the US and its allies in the Gulf.

“As an inherently flexible maneuver force, capable of supporting routine and contingency operations, Georgia’s presence demonstrates the United States’ commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities to remain ready to defend against any threat at any time,” the US Navy said.

The US has flexed its military muscles in the Gulf in recent weeks to warn Iran and reassure America’s Gulf allies at a time of transition in Washington. The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz arrived in the Gulf in late November, and two B-52 bombers recently flew over the Middle East.

On Sunday, the head of US Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US forces in the region, said Washington is “prepared to react” if Iran carries out an attack to mark one year since the killing of Iranian commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. 

“We are prepared to defend ourselves, our friends and partners in the region, and we’re prepared to react if necessary,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said.

*With AFP 


EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
Updated 15 min 18 sec ago

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020

EU, Turkey call for better ties after tough 2020
  • Turkey faces threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record.
Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
“We have seen an improvement in the overall atmosphere,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he welcomed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks, describing 2020 as complicated.
“Intentions and announcements need to be translated into actions,” Borrell said.
The improved tone follows a video conference between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Jan. 9 in which both stressed the importance of the bilateral relationship.
Cavusoglu said he hoped von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the head of the European Council which represents the 27 EU member states, would visit Turkey after an invitation from Erdogan.
“It is of course important for there to be a positive atmosphere in Turkey-EU ties, but in order for this to be sustainable, we must take concrete steps,” Cavusoglu added.
2020 proved particularly difficult for relations between Turkey and the EU, especially France, with Erdogan expressing publicly his hope that protests in French cities would topple President Emmanuel Macron.
Greece and Cyprus, strongly backed by France, want to punish Turkey for what they see as provocative oil and gas exploration by Turkish vessels in disputed waters, but Germany and Italy are reluctant to go ahead with any sanctions on Ankara.
Turkey has now withdrawn the vessels and is set to restart talks with Greece, although the EU has accused Ankara of playing “cat and mouse” in a pattern of provocation and reconciliation.
EU leaders will decide in March whether to impose sanctions.
Brussels also accuses Erdogan of undermining the economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts and media, leaving Turkey’s bid to join the EU further away than ever.
“We remain concerned about the (human rights) situation in Turkey,” Borrell said on Thursday.
The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to back a resolution calling for the release of Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician jailed in 20216 on terrorism-related charges.
But Turkey remains a big destination for EU trade and investment and also hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees. The EU aims to agree fresh funds for the refugees from 2022 to discourage them from coming into the bloc.
Ankara wants progress on Turks’ right to visa-free travel to the EU, an upgrade of its trade agreement with Europe and recognition of its claims to hydrocarbons off its maritime shelf.