Report: Iran denies threat to U.S. navy vessels

By Xinhua

Tehran : Iran on Tuesday denied its Revolutionary guards boats had threatened to blow up U.S. navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend, saying what happened between the two sides was just a “routine” action to identify each other.

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“No threatening message was transmitted,” the state television quoted an unidentified Guards official as saying.

Meanwhile, Ali Reza Tangsiri, commander of the Guards naval forces in the region, was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying that “Iran has the right to take controlling measures and ask all the vessels to identify themselves when they enter the Persian Gulf” through the Strait of Hormuz.

“No special engagement happened between the guards boats and foreign ships, it was just a normal identification,” he added.

A Guards official said on Monday that the Iranian boats were patrolling in the Strait of Hormuz when they saw three U.S. ships there and “routinely asked the ships to identify themselves.”

“They (the U.S. ships) did so and continued their path,” said the official who declined to be identified.

Some Iranians on Tuesday also accused U.S. of diverting their fault into Iran, saying the U.S. military was “exaggerating the truth.”

“It’s their fault to have their ships patrolling so close to Iran, we are entitled to patrol along our coastline,” Hassan Farshid, a 38-year-old clerk told Xinhua.

The U.S. Pentagon alleged on Monday that five Iranian revolutionary guard boats “seriously provoked” three U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

Pentagon officials told reporters the Iranian boats made threatening moves and headed toward the U.S. ships early Sunday morning local time.

The Iranian boats also made threatening radio transmissions, which included the taunt that “I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes,” they added.

The U.S. warships manned gun positions and were prepared to shoot, but the Iranian boats suddenly turned away, the officials said, adding that the U.S. ships were in international waters at the time.

However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini on Monday downplayed the incident, saying “it’s something normal and takes place every now and then for each party,” adding that “it has been resolved.”

White House has immediately warned Iran to refrain from taking “provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future,” while the State Department said the United States “will confront Iranian behavior where it seeks to do harm either to us or our friends or allies in the region.”