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Iran accuses US firing warning flares

Iran and the US have accused each other’s naval forces of provocative maneuvers in the Gulf that culminated in a US helicopter firing warning flares at Iranian vessels.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said in a statement carried by local media on Saturday that the USS Nimitz, accompanied by another US warship and a helicopter, on Friday afternoon behaved in an “unprofessional and provocative” way while “being monitored by the Guards’ frigates”.

The statement said the unprovoked incident took place near Iran’s Resalat oil and gas platform in the Gulf.

The Guards “ignored the unconventional move by the US ships and continued their mission, after which the super carrier and its warship left the area,” the statement added.

The officials said the Iranian boat is believed to have been operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
It approached and came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt, a US Navy patrol ship.

The Navy ship fired warning shots into the water over concerns of a collision, one of the officials said.

Pentagon spokesman US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis previously told reporters that there had been 35 incidents of unsafe or unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016, although the “vast majority” had occurred in the first half of that year.

In June, the US military labeled the actions of an Iranian vessel “unsafe and unprofessional” after it trained a laser on a US helicopter that was accompanying a formation of American ships transiting the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian forces view the US presence in the Gulf as a provocation. They have accused the US Navy of unprofessional behavior, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, the mouth of the Gulf through which a third of all oil trade passes by sea.

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