Thursday, October 28, 2021

State TV says Iranian speedboats intercepted US Navy ship

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s state TV reported Thursday that speedboats from the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard intercepted American ships in the Persian Gulf. A US Navy spokesman said he was not aware of any such encounter at sea in the past.

The region continues to hold an edge over Iran’s growing nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-stricken 2015 accord with world powers have been stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.

Thursday’s Iranian report circulated footage that TV said was filmed from one of the guard speedboats. It shows at least one ship with the American flag and several personnel on board as at least two speedboats appear to be chasing it. However, the other non-Iranian vessel in the video could not be identified.

In the footage, a voice is heard saying in Persian: “Keep following them.” The report did not specify when the encounter took place.

CMD. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said he was not aware of any unsafe talks with Iran in the past two days.

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This report is the first of its kind in recent months.

In May, the Guard rejected the US Navy’s claim that the Revolutionary Guard had sent 13 armed speedboats too close to US Navy ships in the strait, a day after Iranian speedboats were speeding in the Strait of Hormuz.

At the time, the United States said a Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots when two Iranian boats came dangerously close.

In the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran substantially limited its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement, raising tensions in the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

Negotiations in Vienna have now stalled, with Iran breaching limits set by the agreement and enriching small amounts of uranium for weapons purity to its nearest level as its stockpile continues to grow. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

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