Iran seized a cargo ship flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and is taking it to Bander Abbas.
According to Bloomberg View:
When asked if his country would request that the U.S. rescue the cargo ship from Iran, Junior Aini, the charge d’affairs for the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, told us he was still awaiting guidance from his foreign ministry. But he also suggested that his country had no other recourse than to hope the U.S. responds.
“The United States has the full security responsibility over the islands and for the defense of the islands, this is what our treaty says,” he told us. Aini was referring to a 1986 accord between the U.S. and the island nation that set the terms for independence. The Marshall Islands has no standing army. News that Iran had boarded the Maersk Tigris surprised Aini. He said he initially learned about the incidentfrom watching Fox News.
Aini also said his nation is barred by the 1986 agreement from doing anything that would challenge America’s role in this regard. “We cannot take any action that will impact the U.S. responsibility,” he said. Under a 1983 Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has “full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” according to a State Department fact sheet.
But the Pentagon seems to have completely blown off any U.S. responsibility, according to CBS’s Major Garrett:
.@CBSDavidMartin "Pentagon lawyers have determined..US has no obligation to come to the defense of a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel at sea"
— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) April 28, 2015