Tense encounter between US and Iranian warships in the Strait of Hormuz

A US Navy warship fired a warning flare to repulse an Iranian Revolutionary Guards speedboat heading directly towards him during a tense meeting in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, authorities reported Tuesday.

Monday’s incident between the Guard and the Navy comes at a time when tensions remain high over the deadlock in negotiations over the ailing Iranian nuclear deal with world powers and as Tehran enriches uranium closer than ever to the weapons-grade levels under diminishing international supervision.

The Cyclone-class patrol ship USS Sirocco and the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Choctaw County they met three Iranian speedboats as they came through the Strait of Hormuz to enter the Persian Gulf, the Navy said.

One of the Revolutionary Guard boats that advanced dangerously against a US ship (US Navy via AP)
The USS Sirocco, seen during a patrol in the Gulf of Oman, had a close brush with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf on June 20. (US Naval Forces Central Command)
The patrol ship USS Sirocco (US Naval Forces Central Command)

In a video released by the Bahrain-based Navy’s 5th Fleet, a high-speed Guard Boghammar turning head-on towards the Sirocco. The Sirocco repeatedly honks her horn at the Boghammar, which moves away from her as it approaches her. The flare shot is heard but not seen as the Boghammar passes the Sirocco with the Iranian flag flying above it.

The Navy said that the Boghammar came within 45 meters of the Sirocco, increasing the risk of the vessels colliding with each other. The encounter lasted about an hour, according to the Navy.

The actions of the Guarddid not meet international standards of professional or safe maritime behavior, increasing the risk of miscalculation and collisionthe Navy said.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident in the strategic waterway – a fifth of all traded oil passes through the strait.

In this image from a video made available by the US Navy, a boat of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) operates in close proximity to patrol coastal ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) and expeditionary fast transport USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) in the Strait of Hormuz, Monday, June 20, 2022. A US Navy warship fired a warning flare to wave off an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat coming straight at it during a tense encounter in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, officials said Tuesday.  (US Navy via AP)

The Navy added that this was the second “unsafe and unprofessional” incident with Iran in recent months. On March 4, three Guard ships had a tense encounter for more than two hours with US Navy and Coast Guard vessels as they exited the Persian Gulf through the strait, the Navy said.

In that incident, the Guards’ Shahid Nazeri catamaran came within 25 yards (22 meters) of USCGC Robert Goldman, the Navy said. “The two US Coast Guard cutters issued multiple bridge-to-bridge radio calls and deployed warning flares,” the Navy said.

The Navy did not explain why it did not announce the earlier incident, mainly because a larger vessel came even closer to a US warship. Yet that was just when a deal in Vienna between Iran and world powers seemed possible. about restoring the nuclear deal, before the talks broke down.

Iran and world powers agreed to the nuclear deal in 2015, in which Tehran drastically limited its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the agreement, raising tensions across the Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

Talks in Vienna on reviving the agreement have been on “pause” since March. Since the breakdown of the deal, Iran has turned on advanced centrifuges and rapidly increased its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Also earlier this month, Iran removed 27 surveillance cameras from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency’s director warned that this could deal a “fatal blow” to the nuclear deal.

On Tuesday, The IAEA said its inspectors verified that Iran was preparing to enrich uranium through a new cascade of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordo facility.. Iran already has a working cascade of IR-6s at Fordo, near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Tehran. They enrich up to 20% purity.

The IAEA said that Iran has not yet told it the level to which it will enrich the second cascade. Iran has yet to publicly acknowledge the new waterfall.

The 2015 nuclear deal prohibited all kinds of enrichment at Fordo. Protected by mountains, the facility is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns and other fortifications. It is the size of a football field, big enough to house 3,000 centrifuges, but small and hardened enough that US officials suspected it had a military purpose when they exposed the site publicly in 2009.

Amid the tensions, Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of attacks inside and outside Iran against the country, including killing the architect of its former military nuclear program with a remote-controlled machine gun.

On Tuesday, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted the prosecutor of Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeastern Iran as saying that three people detained there in April on suspicion of working with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad wanted to kill scientists. Iranian nuclear.

It is not clear why the three would have been in Sistan and Baluchistan, which has no nuclear facilities. The restive province that borders Afghanistan and Pakistan suffers from sporadic attacks by armed insurgent groups.

(With information from AP/By Jon Gambrella)


They denounce that the Iranian regime is preparing an escalation of uranium enrichment at the Fordow plant