WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States clinched a strategic port deal with Oman on Sunday which U.S. officials say will allow the U.S. military better access the Gulf region and reduce the need to send ships through the Strait of Hormuz, a maritime choke point off Iran.
The U.S. embassy in Oman said in a statement that the agreement governed U.S. access to facilities and ports in Duqm as well as in Salalah and “reaffirms the commitment of both countries to promoting mutual security goals.”
Accord - Prism - Oman - Duqm - Role
The accord is viewed through an economic prism by Oman, which wants to develop Duqm while preserving its Switzerland-like neutral role in Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy.
But it comes as the United States grows increasingly concerned about Iran’s expanding missile programs, which have improved in recent years despite sanctions and diplomatic pressure by the United States.
US - Official - Condition - Anonymity - Deal
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was significant by improving access to ports that connect to a network of roads to the broader region, giving the U.S. military great resiliency in a crisis.
“We used to operate on the assumption that we could just steam into the Gulf,” one U.S. official said, adding, however, that “the quality and quantity of Iranian weapons raises concerns.”
Tehran - Past - Strait - Hormuz - Oil
Tehran has in the past threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route at the mouth of the Gulf, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.
Still, the U.S. official noted that the agreement would expand U.S. military options in the region for any kind of crisis.
Duqm is ideal...
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