The second close contact between the Iranian and American ships raises tension


WASHINGTON – For the second time in a month, ships from Iran and the United States perilously approached the Persian Gulf Monday night, the Navy said Tuesday, escalating tensions between the two countries as negotiators. Talks have resumed Towards the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal.

According to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, three IRGC fast attack boats sailed near the Navy coastal patrol ship and coast guard boat while the two US ships were patrolling international waters in the northern part of Bahrain. The Arabian Gulf.

At around 8 p.m. local time on Monday, Iranian boats quickly and repeatedly approached the American ships, Firebolt and Baranoff – at one point approaching 68 yards, according to To the Navy statement.

The Navy said that the American crews issued multiple warnings over the radio and loudspeakers, but that the Iranian ships continued their maneuvers closely. The Navy said that when the Firebolt crew fired warning shots, the Iranian ships moved away “to a safe distance from the American ships.”

This is the second time in a month that Iran has carried out harassment maneuvers against navy or coast guard ships in the region, after a year of relative maritime peace.

The commander said that this interaction was the first “unsafe and unprofessional” episode relating to Iran since April 15, 2020. Rebecca Ribaric, spokeswoman for the Fifth Fleet. In 2017, the Navy recorded 14 such harassing interactions with Iranian forces, compared to 35 in 2016 and 23 in 2015.

In 2016, Iranian forces arrested 10 American sailors and detained them overnight Those who have lost their way in the territorial waters of the Islamic Republic.

However, Commander Riberes said that such incidents mostly ceased in 2018 and around 2019. Events at sea have always involved the Revolutionary Guards, which follow only Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The previous confrontation took place this month on April 2, when a Revolutionary Guard ship, Harith 55, accompanied by three rapid attack ships, harassed two Coast Guard cutters, Rangel and Monomoy, while they were conducting routine security patrols in international waters in the southern Persian Gulf. The Navy said in a separate statement It was released earlier on Tuesday. That episode was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

The Navy said the Harth 55 repeatedly cut in front of the two U.S. ships at extremely close range, approaching 70 yards. American crews issued multiple alarms via Bridge-to-Bridge radio, and five short blasts from ship horns, but the Iranian ships persisted.

About three hours after the US ships issued warnings and conducted defensive maneuvers to avoid collisions, the Iranian ships moved away.

US military analysts indicated that Iranian warships had targeted some of the region’s smallest and most armored Navy and Coast Guard ships, indicating that the Iranians may have wanted to make a statement without risking too much of killing their own nationals.

Cruisers and sea destroyers, which are much larger than harassed ships and carry a more lethal range of weapons, have special 5-inch shells – developed after The fatal 2000 attack on the destroyer Cole in Yemen It was specially designed to take out small Fast Attack Ships like this from the Iranians. But the US ships targeted this month do not have such weapons on board.

The accident happened on Monday night just days later Leaked audio tape Provide a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes power struggles of Iran’s leaders. In the recording, Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said that the Revolutionary Guards made the decision, nullifying many government decisions and ignoring diplomatic advice.

In an unusual moment on the tape, Zarif departed from the official honorable line towards Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, the foreign arm of the Iranian security apparatus, Who was killed by the United States in January 2020.

“In the Islamic Republic, the military sphere rules,” Zarif said in a three-hour conversation that was part of an oral history project documenting the work of the current administration.

John Ismay Contribute to reporting.

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