Iran had its missiles locked on a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf after two small US Navy boats drifted into Iranian territorial waters, and its forces were awaiting orders to fire, the naval commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday, in the aftermath of the crisis.
Gen. Ali Fadavi, of the hard-line IRGC military force, scoffed at the “unprofessional behavior” of the US fleet during the crisis, warned that Iran could have inflicted an unprecedented “catastrophe” upon the US forces, and bragged that the US would never prevail in a confrontation with Iran in the Gulf.
“The USS Truman Aircraft carrier showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers,” and Iran was ready to strike at it, Fadavi said, according to Iran’s semi-state Fars news agency.
“We were highly prepared with our coast-to-sea missiles, missile-launching speedboats and our numerous capabilities,” Fadavi said, according to Fars.
“The US and France’s aircraft carriers were within our range and if they had continued their unprofessional moves, they would have been afflicted with such a catastrophe that they had never experienced all throughout the history,” the IRGC commander warned, according to Fars. “They could have been shot, and if they were, they would have been destroyed.”
The statements came as Iran released the 10 sailors, ending the tense standoff, amid a flurry of phone calls between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian counterpart Moahmmed Javad Zarif. The quick end to the crisis was seen as a fruit of the nuclear talks between the two countries and ties forged between Kerry and Zarif.
Tehran said it seized the two ships when they drifted into Iranian-controlled waters.
While the 10 sailors aboard the two small boats did not resist Iranian troops, the US fleet that arrived near the scene later “made many show-off moves near Iran’s sea borders,” Fars paraphrased Fadavi as saying.
It quoted Fadavi adding: “But we communicated an announcement through the international (radio) systems and prevented any further irresponsible moves by them… Then they came to realize the IRGC Navy has the first and the last word in here.”
Ultimately, the US forces “and their diplomats acknowledged their wrong action and undertook not to repeat such mistakes,” Fadavi said.
However, the US denied making any such apology, saying there was nothing to apologize for.
Fadavi warned, according to Fars, that the US and its navy “won’t be the winner of any battle with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as destruction and sinking of their warships will be the end result of any such war.”
He scoffed that, “in those 40 minutes, the Americans were clearly under intense psychological pressure and they did not act like a professional and responsible force.”
Fadavi spoke as Kerry thanked Iran Wednesday for resolving the dispute “peacefully and efficiently.”
“I want to express my gratitude to the Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,” Kerry said in a statement.
“That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong,” Kerry added.
The nine American men and one woman were held in an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf after being detained nearby on Tuesday.
The US military has said that mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to drift into Iranian territorial waters near the island, where they were picked up by Iran.
Happy to see dialog and respect, not threats and impetuousness, swiftly resolved the #sailors episode. Let’s learn from this latest example.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 13, 2016
The Revolutionary Guards’ official website published images of the detained US sailors before their release, showing them sitting on the floor of a room.
The sole woman had her hair covered by a brown cloth.
State TV later released more video and photos of the Americans apparently surrendering on their knees, their hands behind their head. It also showed machine guns and ammunition they had onboard.
The pictures also showed what appeared to be their two boats.