The State Department refused to condemn the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ interception of a western commercial cargo vessel.
When asked to describe the attack or to forwardly condemn Iran’s aggression, spokesperson Jeff Rathke indicated he was unwilling to because the State Department was still collecting information.
"This is underway," Rathke said. "I’m not going to apply an adjective to it right now."
On Tuesday, Iranian ships forced a Marshall Islands cargo ship named the Maersk Tigris further into Iranian waters. The cargo vessel was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz when it was confronted at 5:05 a.m. Eastern time.
The Marshall Islands vessel’s captain initially refused Iranian patrol crafts call to divert course but acquiesced after a patrol craft fired a warning shot across the bow of the Maersk Tigris.
The United States is obligated by international treaty to treat any attack on the Marshall Islands as an attack on the U.S. itself and is sworn to defend the islands and their interests abroad.
"The United States has the full security responsibility over the islands and for the defense of the islands, this is what our treaty says," Junior Aini of the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The USS Farragut has been ordered to proceed to the location of the Maersk Tigris in response to the ship’s distress call.
The Pentagon confirmed that no Americans were onboard the ship.
Last week, President Obama sent U.S. warships to the Arabian Sea to intercept Iranian vessels suspected of sending weapons and ammunition to the Houthi rebels in Yemen.