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Iran denies harassing US warships in Gulf, warns of clashes

  • Published at 09:34 am March 26th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:05 pm March 26th, 2017
Iran denies harassing US warships in Gulf, warns of clashes
Iran denied on Saturday US accusations that its fast-attack boats were "harassing" warships at the mouth of the Gulf, and said Washington would be responsible for any clashes in the key oil shipping route. US Navy commanders earlier accused Iran of jeopardising international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz and said future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash. They spoke after the US aircraft carrier George H W Bush confronted what one of the commanding officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a US-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday on a journey from the Indian Ocean into the Gulf. It was the first time a US carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30% of global oil exports pass, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher US stance towards Iran. In Tehran, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, said the US claims of the confrontation in the Gulf were based on "false reports or ulterior motives", the state news agency IRNA reported. "We emphasise that the Americans would be responsible for any unrest in the Persian Gulf, and again warn that the US military must change its behaviour," Jazayeri said, without elaborating. US commanders earlier said Tuesday's incident, in which the George H W Bush sent helicopter gunships to hover over the Iranian speedboats as some came as close as 870m from the aircraft carrier, ended without a shot being fired. But it underscored growing tension between the United States and Iran since the election of Trump, who has condemned the 2015 nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama and leaders of five other world powers struck with Tehran and labelled the Islamic Republic "the number one terrorist state". The encounter with Iranian Navy boats occurred as the USS George H W Bush was en route to the northern part of the Gulf to participate in US-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Earlier in March, Iran disputed the US account of another confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz between its speedboats and a US Navy vessel.
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