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Iranian state TV says speedboats intercepted US Navy vessel

Video shows alleged encounter in Persian Gulf; US Navy spokesman says not aware of any incident at sea

In an April 2, 2021 photo released by the US Navy, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel cuts in front of the US Coast Guard ship USCGC Monomoy in the Persian Gulf. (US Navy via AP)
File: In an April 2, 2021, photo released by the US Navy, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel cut in front of the US Coast Guard ship USCGC Monomoy in the Persian Gulf. (US Navy via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state TV reported on Thursday that speedboats belonging to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard have intercepted a United States vessel in the Persian Gulf. A US Navy spokesman said that he was not aware of any such encounter at sea over the past few days.

The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.

Thursday’s Iranian report aired footage that the TV station said was filmed from one of the Guard speedboats. It shows a vessel with the US flag and several personnel on board as the speedboat appears to be chasing it.

A voice is heard in Farsi, saying: “Keep chasing them.” The report did not say when the encounter took place.

Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that he wasn’t aware of any sort of unsafe interaction with Iran in the last two days.

The report is the first such report in recent months.

In May, the Guard rejected the US Navy’s claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter, a day after the US said that the Revolutionary Guard sent 13 armed speedboats too close to US Navy vessels in the Strait.

The US at the time said that a Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots when two of the Iranian boats came dangerously close.

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.

With the talks in Vienna now stalled, Iran has breached limits set by the accord and is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile continues to grow. Iran says that its nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes.

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