Ira­nian drone comes close to US war plane

Kuwait Times - - NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON: An un­armed Ira­nian drone came within 100 feet (31 me­ters) of a US Navy war­plane as it pre­pared to land on an air­craft car­rier in the Gulf, a US of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

The of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said that de­spite re­peated ra­dio calls to stay clear of the US plane, the Ira­nian drone “ex­e­cuted un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional al­ti­tude changes” close to the US Navy F/A-18E. The war­plane was in a hold­ing pat­tern and pre­par­ing to land aboard the USS Nimitz air­craft car­rier.

The of­fi­cial de­scribed the in­ter­ac­tion as “un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional.” Sim­i­lar in­ci­dents be­tween the United States and Iran are not un­com­mon, how­ever this ap­pears to be the first time an Ira­nian drone has come dan­ger­ously close to a US fighter plane in the Gulf.

This was the 13th un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the United States and Ira­nian mar­itime forces in 2017, the of­fi­cial said. Years of mu­tual an­i­mos­ity had eased when Wash­ing­ton lifted sanc­tions on Tehran last year as part of a deal to curb Iran’s nu­clear am­bi­tions. But se­ri­ous dif­fer­ences re­main over Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram and con­flicts in Syria and Iraq.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has struck a hard line on Iran, re­cently de­clared that Iran was com­ply­ing with its nu­clear agree­ment with world pow­ers, but warned that Tehran was not fol­low­ing the spirit of the ac­cord and that Wash­ing­ton would look for ways to strengthen it.

The United States has a num­ber of military bases in the re­gion, in­clud­ing in Qatar and Kuwait across the Gulf from Iran and the US Fifth Fleet is based in nearby Bahrain. Ear­lier this year, a se­nior com­man­der in Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards warned the United States that if it des­ig­nated the group a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, its ac­tion could be per­ilous for US forces in the re­gion. — Reuters

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