Ira­nian ves­sel made ‘un­safe’ ac­tion against US copter


WASH­ING­TON: An Ira­nian Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard ves­sel pointed its weapon at a US mil­i­tary he­li­copter in the Strait of Hor­muz on Satur­day, two US de­fense of­fi­cials said on Mon­day, an ac­tion they de­scribed as “un­safe and un­pro­fes­sional.”

The of­fi­cials added: “The be­hav­ior by our stan­dards is provoca­tive and could be seen as an es­ca­la­tion.” At no point did the crew of the he­li­copter feel threat­ened, they said.

The in­ci­dent is the lat­est in a se­ries of sim­i­lar ac­tions by Ira­nian ves­sels this year, but the first re­ported since Don­ald Trump won the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion ear­lier this month.

Dur­ing his cam­paign, Trump vowed that any Ira­nian ves­sel that ha­rassed the US Navy in the Gulf would be “shot out of the wa­ter,” if he was elected. Trump is due to take of­fice on Jan. 20.

An Ira­nian mil­i­tary of­fi­cial said the US mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Gulf poses the main risk of con­flict in the re­gion.

"Ev­ery­body knows that the main prob­lem in the Gulf is the US pres­ence," an uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards was quoted as say­ing by Tas­nim news agency.

The of­fi­cial said all in­ter­na­tional ves­sels were ply­ing the Strait of Hor­muz — through which 40 per­cent of the world's seaborne oil is shipped — with no dif­fi­culty and it was only the Amer­i­cans who com­plained by mak­ing false cases against Iran.

He fur­ther called the US be­hav­ior "im­proper and un­pro­fes­sional", but did not ad­dress the al­le­ga­tion that the IRGC ves­sel aimed its guns at the he­li­copter.

Sev­eral sim­i­lar in­ci­dents have oc­curred this year. In Septem­ber, a US Navy coastal pa­trol ship changed course af­ter an Ira­nian fast-at­tack craft came within 90 me­tres of it.

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