Iran: Sea en­counter ‘un­pro­fes­sional’

The re­port said the con­fronta­tion took place Fri­day af­ter­noon and the U.S. navy ships left the area af­ter the en­counter.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - NASSER KARIMI In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Adam Schreck of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard said Sat­ur­day that a U.S. Navy air­craft car­rier fired a warn­ing shot in an “un­pro­fes­sional” con­fronta­tion with Ira­nian ves­sels, the of­fi­cial Is­lamic Repub­lic News Agency re­ported.

The news agency quoted a state­ment from the Guard as say­ing that the USS Nimitz and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing ship came near an Ira­nian oil off­shore plat­form in the Per­sian Gulf and a he­li­copter from the ship hov­ered near ves­sels manned by Iran’s elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard.

The re­port said the con­fronta­tion took place Fri­day af­ter­noon and the U.S. navy ships left the area af­ter the en­counter.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said the in­ci­dent hap­pened while one of its he­li­copters was on a rou­tine pa­trol in in­ter­na­tional airspace. The air­craft saw sev­eral Guard ves­sels ap­proach­ing Amer­i­can ships “at a high rate of speed” and sent out flares af­ter re­ceiv­ing no re­sponse when it tried to es­tab­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the Navy said. That prompted the Ira­nian boats to halt their ap­proach.

Af­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tions were es­tab­lished, the U.S. saw the Ira­ni­ans con­duct a “gun ex­er­cise.” That rou­tine ex­er­cise in­volved them fir­ing weapons into the wa­ter away from Amer­i­can ships, said Navy spokesman Lt. Ian McCon­naughey.

The Navy de­scribed the en­counter “as safe and pro­fes­sional.”

The in­ci­dent comes af­ter a U.S. Navy pa­trol boat fired warn­ing shots Tues­day near an Ira­nian ves­sel that Amer­i­can sailors said came dan­ger­ously close to them dur­ing a tense en­counter.

Iran and the U.S. fre­quently have run-ins in the Per­sian Gulf, nearly all in­volv­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, a sep­a­rate force from Iran’s mil­i­tary that an­swers only to the coun­try’s supreme leader. In Jan­uary, near the end of then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s term, the USS Ma­han fired shots to­ward Ira­nian fast-at­tack boats as they neared the de­stroyer in the Strait of Hor­muz.

Ira­nian forces view the Amer­i­can pres­ence in the Gulf as a provo­ca­tion. They have ac­cused the U.S. Navy of un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­ior, es­pe­cially in the Strait of Hor­muz, the mouth of the Per­sian Gulf through which a third of all oil trade passes by sea.

Also Sat­ur­day, Iran’s par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy held an ur­gent meet­ing with deputy for­eign min­is­ter and se­nior Ira­nian ne­go­tia­tor Ab­bas Araghchi in which they re­viewed mea­sures that the coun­try may ap­ply in re­sponse to a pack­age of sanc­tions the U.S. Se­nate ap­proved Fri­day against Iran and sent to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for sign­ing.

Araghchi told state TV on Sat­ur­day that the de­ci­sion is a “hos­tile” breach of the 2015 nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and world pow­ers.

“It is a breach of the deal in ar­ti­cles 26, 28 and 29,” Araghchi said. “A strong an­swer will be given to the ac­tion by the U.S.”

The ar­ti­cles say the U.S. Ad­min­is­tra­tion, act­ing con­sis­tently with the re­spec­tive roles of the Pres­i­dent and Congress, will re­frain from re-im­pos­ing the sanc­tions or any pol­icy specif­i­cally in­tended to di­rectly and ad­versely af­fect the nor­mal­iza­tion of trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions with Iran.

The U.S. leg­is­la­tion im­poses manda­tory penal­ties on peo­ple in­volved in Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram and any­one who does busi­ness with them. The mea­sure would also ap­ply ter­ror­ism sanc­tions to Iran’s elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard and en­force an arms em­bargo. Democrats said the new sanc­tions would not con­flict with the 2015 nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and world pow­ers.

On Fri­day, the United States, France, Ger­many and Bri­tain, who bro­kered the nu­clear deal with Iran along with China, Rus­sia and the Euro­pean Union, said they’re rais­ing con­cerns with the United Na­tions over Iran’s Thurs­day launch of a satel­lite-car­ry­ing rocket into space.

In a joint state­ment, they said that Iran’s launch was “in­con­sis­tent” with a U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that en­shrined the nu­clear deal.

On Sat­ur­day Iran’s for­eign min­istry said that the mis­sile pro­gram is part of “do­mes­tic pol­icy of the coun­try, de­ter­rent and at ser­vice of re­gional peace and se­cu­rity.”

Tehran and Wash­ing­ton have had no diplo­matic re­la­tions since 1979 when Ira­nian mil­i­tant stu­dents stormed the U.S. em­bassy and took 52 Amer­i­can hostages for 444 days.

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