Iran speedboats 'intercepted US Navy' in Gulf: Iran state TV

Iran speedboats 'intercepted US Navy ship' in Gulf: Iran state TV
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Despite Iranian state TV's claims, a US commander said he did not know about any type of unsafe interaction with Iran occurring in the past two days.
Iranian speedboats reportedly made an interception, state TV said [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images-file photo]

Iran’s state TV reported on Thursday that speedboats belonging to the country's Revolutionary Guards have intercepted a US vessel in the Persian Gulf. A US Navy spokesman said he was not aware of any such encounter at sea over the past days.

The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear programme. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.

Thursday’s Iranian report aired footage that the broadcaster said was filmed from one of the Guard speedboats. It shows a vessel with the US flag and several personnel on board as the speedboat appears to be chasing it.

A voice is heard in Farsi, saying: "Keep chasing them." The report did not say when the encounter took place.

Commander Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, said he wasn’t aware of any sort of unsafe interaction with Iran in the last two days.

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The report is the first such news in recent months.

In May, the Guard rejected the US Navy’s claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter a day after the US said the Revolutionary Guard sent 13 armed speedboats too close to US Navy vessels in the Strait.

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

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

With the talks in Vienna now stalled, Iran has breached limits set by the accord and is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile continues to grow. Iran says its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes.