Iranian spy drone overflies and films US aircraft carrier
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) successfully managed a surveillance flight over a US aircraft carrier, the semi-official Tasnim News agency reported Saturday.
The report included footage apparently from a IRGC drone that flew over the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and another US warship in the Arabian Gulf. The images show fighter planes parked on the carrier deck.
Tasnim did not say when the footage was shot.
The development comes after the US government earlier this month designated the IRGC as a terrorist group to increase pressure on Iran and further isolate the country. Iran responded by labelling all US forces as terrorists.
Lt. Chloe J. Morgan, a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson, said in an email that the USS Eisenhower has not been in the Arabian Gulf since 2016. She said the US and its allies are committed to freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.
In addition, U.S. Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie told Sky News Arabia today that the United States has the necessary resources to prevent Iran from "taking any action that might be dangerous" and was communicating with "friends and allies in the region to ensure that we are united against the Iranian threat".
The strait, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between the US and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.
In recent years, the US Navy has accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships in the waterway.
The drone that took the footage is an Ababil-3 with an eight-hour flight capability at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) and a 250-kilometer (155-mile) range.
The Trump administration said Monday that it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, stepping up pressure on Iran in a move that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and US treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The move is part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports, which the US says are used to destabilize the region.
Iran reiterated its long-running threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if it's prevented from using the crucial waterway in the Arabian Gulf, through which about a third of all oil traded at sea passes.
In 2016, Iran's navy similarly took video footage of the nuclear-powered carrier USS Harry Truman, based in Norfolk, Virginia, while it was in the Arabian Gulf region launching airstrikes and supporting operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
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