Iranian vessels 'harassed' a American ship USS Nitze, says U.S. defence official. In picture: A U.S Navy officer runs next to the USS Nitze, a Guided Missile Destroyer in Rio de Janeiro on April 27, 2011.Reuters

Iranian vessels ‘harassed’ a American ship USS Nitze, says U.S. defence official. In picture: A U.S Navy officer runs next to the USS Nitze, a Guided Missile Destroyer in Rio de Janeiro on April 27, 2011. (Reuters)

August 30, 2016

A defence official from the United States has said that a U.S. warship was on Tuesday intercepted and “harassed” by four vessels belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz.

The official told Reuters on Wednesday without revealing his name that two of the vessels came within 270 metres of the USS Nitze, a guided-missile destroyer. He also called the incident “unsafe and unprofessional.” The official also said the Iranian vessels conducted “a high-speed intercept” and closed in to “within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings.”

 The U.S. official said the Nitze had attempted to establish channels of communication with the IRGC vessels at least 12 times, but to no avail. It is then believed to have fired 10 flares towards two of the IRGC vessels. “The Iranian high rate of closure… created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation, including additional defensive measures by Nitze,” the official said.

The U.S. and Iran share ties that are not exactly cordial, and the former has long been wary of Iran’s posturing and maritime ambitions in the Gulf region. The U.S. was also at the forefront of a coalition that coerced Iran into signing a deal against nuclear proliferation with threats of more sanctions than those that already exist on it.

Matters have been exacerbated by Iran’s open support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who, in the name of hitting back at the Islamic State group and other terrorist organisations in the region, has been known to come down heavily — with its army as well as strategic air-strikes — on the rebels who are looking to topple his regime.

The posturing by the IRGC vessels ultimately led to the USS Nitze to change its course, said the U.S. official. He also said the U.S. would have lodged a diplomatic protest with Iran, but for the lack of such ties with the country.

International Business Times

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.