Tehran warns US to stay out of Ira­nian waters

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

TEHRAN has warned Wash­ing­ton against de­ploy­ing war­ships in Ira­nian ter­ri­to­rial waters in the Gulf, after a close en­counter ear­lier in the week be­tween Ira­nian and US naval ships in the Strait of Hor­muz.

Ira­nian De­fence Min­is­ter Hos­sein De­hghan said on Thurs­day that ev­ery US ship that en­tered Ira­nian waters would first be warned, but if the in­tru­sion was con­sid­ered an in­va­sion, there would be a con­fronta­tion.

"If an Amer­i­can ship en­ters Iran's mar­itime re­gion, it will def­i­nitely get a warn­ing. We will mon­i­tor them and, if they vi­o­late our waters, we will con­front them," he said.

The warn­ing fol­lows an in­ci­dent on Wed­nes­day when a US war­ship and Ira­nian ships faced off near the Strait of Hor­muz in the Gulf. US Navy spokesman Bill Ur­ban said on Thurs­day that a US Navy pa­trol boat in the Per­sian Gulf fired three warn­ing shots after an Ira­nian ves­sel ap­proached head on, com­ing within 200 me­tres of the US ship.

Dur­ing Wed­nes­day's in­ci­dent, the USS Squall "re­sorted to fir­ing three warn­ing shots from their 50-cal­i­bre gun, which caused the Ira­nian ves­sel to turn away," he said.

Ear­lier, a US de­fence of­fi­cial said that four ves­sels from Iran's Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps con­ducted a "high-speed in­ter­cept" of the war­ship in the Strait of Hor­muz.

The of­fi­cial said two of the Ira­nian ves­sels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an in­ci­dent that was "un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional", un­der­lin­ing the ten­sions that re­main more than a year after Wash­ing­ton and other Western pow­ers reached a land­mark nu­clear deal with Iran and lifted sanc­tions.

While the US claims its ship was in in­ter­na­tional waters, Iran says the ves­sel was in Ira­nian waters and there­fore vi­o­lated the coun­try's sovereignty.

A sim­i­lar in­ci­dent in Jan­uary re­sulted in the ar­rest of 10 US marines, who were quickly freed after ur­gent diplo­matic ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif and his US coun­ter­part John Kerry.

In May, a se­nior Ira­nian mil­i­tary com­man­der said that Iran would close the strate­gic Strait of Hor­muz, a pas­sage­way through which a third of the world's oil is trans­ported, un­less the US and its al­lies stop "threat­en­ing" it.

"If the Amer­i­cans and their re­gional al­lies want to pass through the Strait of Hor­muz and threaten us, we will not al­low any en­try," state me­dia quoted Bri­gadier Gen­eral Hos­sein Salami, the deputy com­man­der of the pow­er­ful Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, as say­ing on Wed­nes­day. — AP

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