Pentagon Upset Over Spain Recalling Its Frigate From Strike Group in Gulf as US-Iran Tensions Rise

The Spanish frigate was part of a US-led naval group that was sent to the Persian Gulf shortly before Tehran announced the suspension of some of its obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on 8 May. The move came exactly a year after the US unilaterally left the deal, also reinstating harsh anti-Iranian sanctions.

The US Department of Defence has expressed regret over Madrid’s move to recall the Spanish frigate Mendez Nunez from a US-led naval group in the Persian Gulf.

“We have enjoyed a productive and professional relationship with [the crew of] the Mendez Nunez, but we are disappointed with Spain’s decision to permanently withdraw the frigate from the Abraham Lincoln strike group”, Pentagon spokeswoman Carla Gleason told the independent Spanish news agency EFE. She declined to elaborate.

The remarks come after the Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles announced on 14 May that the Mendez Nunez frigate would be temporarily withdrawn from the Abraham Lincoln strike group because “the US government has taken a decision outside of the framework of what had been agreed with the Spanish Navy”.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais, in turn, reported that the frigate made a stop in the ports of India and Oman waiting for the strike battle group to continue its initial mission, but to no avail.

The newspaper referred to the increasing tensions in the Persian Gulf which finally prompted the Spanish Defence Ministry to decide on the Mendez Nunez implementing the…

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