The US Navy fired warning shots at Iranian military boats in the northern Persian Gulf on Monday, the first such escalation in nearly four years, the Pentagon announced. An American warship fired warning shots when vessels of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard came too close to a patrol in the Persian Gulf, the US Navy said Wednesday.
The Navy released black-and-white footage of the encounter Monday night in international waters of the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf. In it, lights can be seen in the distance and what appears to be a single gunshot can be heard, with a tracer round racing across the top of the water. The three armed Iranian speed boats “rapidly approached” a U.S. Navy patrol coastal ship, the Firebolt, and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, the Baranoff, on Monday evening in international waters at about 8 p.m. local time, the US Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said in a statement.
The Iranian vessels operated at ‘an unnecessarily close range with unknown intent’ and at one point came within 68 yards of both U.S. ships, the statement said. The incident marks the second known occurrence this month of Iranian vessels harassing U.S. ships, after a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast-attack craft swarmed two US Coast Guard cutters at close distances in the Persian Gulf on April 2, the Wall Street Journal first reported. It also comes just weeks after the Biden administration and Iran had begun talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. The American withdrawal sparked a sharp escalation of tension between Tehran and Washington that culminated in the US killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in early 2020. At a time when the world is fighting a pandemic, such tensions are unnecessary.