US-Iran tensions: Indian Navy intensifies maritime security operation in gulf region


Defence News India: India is closely monitoring the situation in the gulf region to protect its interest following the killing of a top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike ordered by the US President Donald Trump last week. Regular meetings of senior officials of the ministry of defence, ministry of external affairs, ministry of shipping and director general of shipping have been held to monitor the situation to protect Indian interest in the gulf region. Indian Navy has launched Operation Sankalp (Resolve) in June last year following the attack on merchant vessels in Gulf of Oman in the month. However, following the killing of Irani general and Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes in US bases situated in Iraq, Indian Navy is closely monitoring the progress of its Operation Sankalp to protect national interest, said the ministry of defence.

“Indian Navy continues to monitor the situation in the Gulf region and is maintaining presence in the region to ensure security of our sea borne trade and the safety of Indian Flag Merchant Vessels transiting through the region,” said the ministry of defence.

Indian Navy had launched Operation Sankalp (Resolve) to protect Indian vessels and interests in the gulf region that has seen heightened tensions in recent times. A warship was deployed in Strait of Hormuz last year to reassure Indian vessels. The warship was deployed to ensure safe passage of Indian flag bearing merchant ships passing through the Strait Hormuz.

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“The Operation Sankalp is being progressed in close coordination with all stakeholders,” said the ministry of defence.

Defence ministry said that Indian Navy warships and aircraft were deployed to establish presence, provide a sense of reassurance to the Indian merchantmen, monitor the ongoing situation and respond to any emergent crises. One war ship is presently deployed for Operation Sankalp (Resolve).

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It is imperative for the country to protect its vessels and merchant ships transiting through the volatile region as the country imports bulk of its energy requirements – crude oil and natural gas from the gulf region. India imports nearly 80% of its crude and natural gas requirement and a bulk of it is imported from gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and others.

However, following a tit-for-tat retaliatory missile strike by Iran on the US installations located in Iraq has further aggravated the situation, creating a nightmare for oil importing countries like India.

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Though, India has already suspended buying crude oil from Iran after waiver given by the US to 8 countries to import crude oil ended recently. However, it maintains close economic and diplomatic ties with Iran as it has strategic interest in Chabahar port in Iran which has been developed with Indian assistance.

Any further escalation of tension between the US and Iran will have a direct impact on India’s energy security as the country imports a big part of its crude oil and natural gas requirements from the gulf region.

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