Iran’s provocations disturbing, says US
THE United States warned of “disturbing trends” in Iran’s behaviour after Tehran’s military threatened to down two US Navy planes over the Strait of Hormuz.
Some in Washington had hoped Iran’s regime would show a warmer face to the world after this year’s nuclear deal, but a US official admitted this has not been the case.
Asked about Iran’s military provocations, its ballistic missile tests and its detention of US citizens, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner acknowledged concern.
“We have seen some disturbing trends,” he said, adding of the threat to the planes, “We have seen a succession of these events over the past month or so.” The spokesperson insisted that Iran would have been an even greater threat to its region and to the United States if it had not signed the deal to limit its nuclear ambitions.
But Mr Toner admitted it was possible that Iran had stepped up its provocations in other domains after the controversial agreement won the Islamic republic sanctions relief.
Earlier, the Pentagon had confirmed the latest in a series of dangerous military encounters between the US Navy and Iranian forces near key oil trade routes in the Gulf.
Two US maritime patrol aircraft were flying separate missions in international airspace on September 10 when Iranian air defence batteries challenged them by radio.
US Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson Commander Bill Urban said the Iranians told the pilots they were flying near Iranian airspace, and if they did not change course “we will fire Iranian missile”.
The US aircraft replied, “This is a coalition aircraft conducting routine operations in international airspace”, and continued on their respective missions.
The spokesperson said the Iranian warning was “unprofessional” but the US Navy has not deemed the incident “unsafe” because the US planes were outside known Iranian anti-aircraft missile ranges. –