Terrorist nations like Iran don’t care about pandemics.
The Guardian – After the drone killing of the top IRGC general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad in January, the Trump administration claimed it had “restored deterrence” against Iranian military ambitions in the region
However, there have been several rocket attacks on Iraqi bases housing US and allied troops since then, and Iran’s naval forces have been increasingly assertive. On Tuesday, they boarded a Hong Kong-flagged tanker and diverted it into Iranian waters before releasing it.
“As expected, Iran is continuing to flex muscle amid the global pandemic, because unlike what Iran hawks keep telling you, it’s neither deterred nor about to hit the pause button on tensions with the US to focus on public health,” Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US, wrote on Twitter.
Last week, US Naval Forces Command reported that on April 15, the US Navy said that 11 Iranian boats “conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” and that the IRGCN boats crossed the bows and sterns of the US ships repeatedly, at one point closing to within 10 yards of one of the cutters.
The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds, including multiple crossings of the Puller with a 50 yard closest point of approach (CPA) and within 10 yards of Maui’s bow.
The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response from the IRGCN.
After approximately one hour, the IRGCN vessels responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them.
Watch the incredible video of the interaction between the US Navy and the provocative IRGCN vessels here:
This short video a confrontation with an IRGNC boat was shared on the US Dept. of Defense website:
The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) “rules of the road” or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area.
The U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Army have been conducting joint interoperability operations in the North Arabian Gulf since late March.
Only moments ago, President Trump revealed on Twitter that he’s given
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
On April 14, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iranian naval forces seized a Hong Kong-flagged tanker and redirected the vessel into Iranian waters before releasing it, according to Western and Emirati officials, prompting a warning Tuesday to ships along the Persian Gulf’s key oil export route.
The alert comes amid mounting Iranian assertiveness along the key oil export route, say Western security officials, and as broader regional tensions simmer between Tehran and Saudi Arabia as well as Western powers.
Tankers crossing the Strait of Hormuz—near the area where the vessel was held—have been frequently stopped or approached by the Iranian navy in recent months. Over a third of the world’s seaborne oil transits through the Strait.
The vessel “was boarded by armed men” while anchored in the Persian Gulf and taken near the Iranian port of Ras Al Kuh, said the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, which liaises between the British military in the region and commercial shippers.
“Vessels transiting the area are advised to exercise caution,” the UKMTO said.
The tanker was inspected on suspicion that it was about to load smuggled products and was then released, said a Western maritime security official. The Islamic Republic’s navy routinely arrests vessels that carry subsidized Iranian oil which is banned for export.
The vessel’s registered owner, SC Taipei Shipping Co. Ltd. of Singapore, couldn’t be reached for comment.
This isn’t the first time Iran has taunted our US Navy ships. In July 2018, before the USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone over the Straits of Hormuz, President Trump warned the Iranians not to toy with our US Navy. Iran didn’t listen.
MORE: Trump said that the Iranian drone's actions were “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran” pic.twitter.com/1mhzVOIR67
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) July 18, 2019