Iran: IRGC Threatens to close Hormuz Strait

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

IRGC Threatens to Close Hormuz Strait

Tuesday, 23 April, 2019 – 11:00
An Iranian warship and speed boats take part in a naval war game in the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, April 22, 2010. REUTERS/Fars News
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has hinted that it would close the Strait of Hormuz if Iran is prevented from using it, in what appeared to be the first response to the US plan to end waivers on Iranian oil exports.

“If Iran’s benefits in the Strait of Hormuz, which according to international rules is an international waterway, are denied, we will close it,” IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said after the Trump administration revealed Monday that it will no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil.

Iran has previously threatened to close the strait.

“Don’t play with fire, or you will regret,”  Iranian President Rouhani cautioned Trump last July. Rouhani said that the Americans should come to realize that establishing peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and waging war with the country is the mother of all wars.

At the same time, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei agreed that Rouhani’s threats to close the international waterway expressed the regime’s policy.

Khamenei replaced chief commander of IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari with Brigadier General Hossein Salami, seven days after the US designated the group a foreign terrorist organization.

Tangsiri added that replacing the IRGC commander-in-chief had nothing to do with Washington’s recent decision.

However, Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier-General Abu al-Fadl Shakarji said Monday that Salami’s appointment is a blow to the US.

The Iranian foreign ministry said Iran was in “constant talks with its international partners including the Europeans” on Washington’s ending of the exemptions. It added that an “important decision” will be announced later, without elaborating.

China, India, North Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, and Greece will face US sanctions starting May in case they continue to purchase Iranian oil. In November, Washington reimposed strict economic sanctions against Tehran and all states that don’t abide by them, after its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.

US Navy puzzled by recent behavior of Iranian attack boats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

US Navy puzzled by recent behavior of Iranian attack boats

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The two sides have operated without incident for more than five months
  • In total, there were 14 unsafe and unprofessional interactions in 2017 and 36 in 2016

Washington (CNN)It is a trend that has US Navy officials scratching their heads.

Between January 2016 and August 2017, US warships consistently encountered armed Iranian “fast attack” boats and drones in the Persian Gulf as the two sides routinely accused each other of behaving provocatively.
But after nearly two years of regular “unsafe” or “unprofessional” interactions, the two sides have operated without incident for more than five months — a sudden shift the US Navy is welcoming with cautious optimism.
“We are not going to speculate on the reason for this recent positive trend in interactions, though we hope it will continue in the future,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Chloe J. Morgan, a spokesperson for US Naval Forces Central Command, told CNN in a statement.
“While we consider the decreased incidents in the second half of 2017 to be a positive development, the United States Navy remains vigilant as we continue to operate,” the statement said.
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The Wall Street Journal was first to report the story.
In total, there were 14 unsafe and unprofessional interactions in 2017 and 36 in 2016 — an average of 2.5 such encounters per month over that time period, according to Morgan.
The last incident occurred on August 14, 2017 when an Iranian drone flew in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner” close to a US aircraft carrier in the central Persian Gulf, according to the US Navy.
During that encounter, a QOM-1 drone came within 1,000 feet of US aircraft flying near the USS Nimitz, prompting the US Navy to use an emergency radio frequency in an attempt to call Iranian ground units.
A US defense official told CNN at the time that the US deemed the drone’s behavior unsafe because it did not have any aircraft navigation lights on — an issue that remains a concern for the Navy despite the recent decrease in interactions.
“Even with the decreased incidents, we remain concerned with the increased number of Iranian UAVs operating in international airspace at night without navigation lights or an active transponder as would be expected according to international norms,” Morgan said.
CNN was first to report one notably tense encounter in August 2017 when a US Navy patrol craft fired three warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat after US officials said it had harassed that patrol craft.
Another US patrol craft and a Kuwaiti Navy ship were also harassed in the incident, which took place in the northern end of the Persian Gulf.
At one point, the Iranian boat came within 200 yards of one of the US Navy boats. When it failed to leave the area after the Navy had fired flares and had a radio conversation with the Iranian crew, the US officials said, the USS Squall fired three warning shots. Following standard maritime procedures, the Navy fired the three shots into the water to ensure the Iranians understood they needed to leave the immediate area.
A similar incident occurred in July 2017 when a US Navy ship fired warning shots at an armed Iranian patrol boat in the northern end of the Persian Gulf, two US defense officials told CNN at the time.
An Iranian boat believed to be operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, approached and came within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt, a US Navy patrol ship, officials said.
The USS Thunderbolt was accompanied by the USS Vella Gulf, which is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, and two US Coast Guard vessels at the time.
When the Iranians did not respond to any US warnings, the Navy ship then fired warning shots into the water over concerns about the possibility of a collision, one of the officials said.

Iranian Military Repeatedly Acting Like Aggressive Idiots In The Strait Of Hormuz

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

The US military labeled the actions of an Iranian vessel “unsafe and unprofessional” after it trained a laser on a US helicopter Tuesday.

Three US Naval ships and a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter had an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with an Iranian Navy vessel while transiting the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, according to a statement from the US military.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers were traveling through the strait when an Iranian vessel approached the US ships, coming within 800 yards of the Bataan, according to a statement issued Wednesday by Cdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
During the encounter the Iranian vessel trained a spotlight on the Cole and Bataan, scanning the ship from bow to stern. No warning shots were fired during the encounter.
The Iranian sailors also shined a laser on the CH-53E helicopter that was accompanying the formation of US ships according to the statement.
Urban said the use of a laser made the encounter unsafe and unprofessional.
A separate US defense official told CNN that the Iranian vessel was a missile boat and that the use of the Iranian laser was detected by the helicopter which proceeded to fire off flares as part of its automatic defensive measures.
“Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles,” Urban said.
It isn’t the first time the US and Iranian navies have been involved in a tense standoff in the Persian Gulf.
In April the US accused an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship of acting in an “unprofessional but also provocative” manner while approaching the American destroyer, the USS Mahan, while it was sailing in the Persian Gulf.
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.
A second US official said that the number of unsafe and unprofessional encounters in 2017 was “way below” the number that had occurred by the same point in 2016.