"We think that it is important to protect international shipping through international sea-lanes, and although it is quite removed physically from Australia, we have Australian shipping, and goods and international goods, including oil, destined for Australia travel through these international waters, and we have a strong view that safety of shipping through international waters should be protected. I want to be clear that this doesn't mean that we agree absolutely with the USA position on Iran or Iranian nuclear deal," Meehan said.
The ambassador stressed that Australia disagreed with Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
"So we are quite careful to say that our participation in the maritime action to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz doesn't mean that we agree with all the actions that United States are taking in relation to the nuclear deal. Of course, the two things are connected, but there are also differences, and I think that is the same for some of the European countries that are considering participating in the maritime act. The European countries don't generally agree with the United States' action of pulling out of the nuclear deal," Meehan explained.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on August 21 that the country would send a surveillance plane, a frigate and 200 servicemen to the Persian Gulf to join the US-led multinational mission working to guarantee safe passage of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz in the wake of heightened US-Iranian tensions.
The relations between the United States and Iran have been in a downward spiral since the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement last spring. The United States has since proclaimed it intends to bring down Iran's sale of oil to zero and has reintroduced sanctions on almost all major sectors of the Middle Eastern nation's economy.
On the first anniversary of the US pullout, Tehran announced that it would start abandoning some parts of its nuclear obligations every 60 days unless European signatories to the deal ensured its interests under the agreement.
The situation worsened this summer when several tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf area, prompting the US to increase its military presence in the region. While Washington and its allies have blamed Iran for the attacks, Tehran has refuted all accusations.
On Deployment of US Intermediate-Range Missiles on Its Territory
Australia will not host US intermediate-range missiles on its territory if it receives a relevant request from Washington, Australian Ambassador to Russia Graeme Meehan said.
"Our defence minister and our prime minister [Scott Morrison] have both said that we won't [host US missiles if a relevant request appears]. Obviously, I cannot predict what a new prime minister or a new government might do in 5- or 10-years' time, but our prime minister said we won't, and that is a fairly clearly and definitive answer," Meehan said.
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds ruled out in early August the possibility of the United States deploying intermediate-range missiles in Australia, noting that the country had not received any formal request on the matter from Washington after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) termination.
The United States withdrew from the INF Treaty, signed with the USSR in 1987, on August 2 after formally suspending its obligations six months earlier. Moscow suspended its own participation in the pact in July. Both countries have repeatedly accused one another of violating the 1987 treaty.
Following the withdrawal, the US Department of Defence conducted a flight test of a conventional ground-launched cruise missile, which hit its target after flying more than 500 kilometres.