State TV claims Iranian speedboats intercept US Navy ship
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iranian state television reported Thursday that speedboats belonging to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards intercepted a US ship in the Persian Gulf. A spokesperson for the US Navy said he was not aware of any such encounter at sea in recent days.
The region remains on the alert in the face of escalating Iran’s nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive the now-tattered 2015 Tehran deal with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.
The Iranian report on Thursday aired footage which the TV said was filmed from one of the Guard’s speedboats. It shows an American-flagged vessel and several personnel on board as the speedboat appears to be chasing it.
A voice is heard in Farsi, saying, “Keep hunting them.” The report does not say when the meeting took place.
Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, said he was not aware of any kind of dangerous interaction with Iran over the past two days.
The report is the first of its kind in recent months.
In May, the Guard rejected the US Navy’s claim that Iranian speedboats rapidly approaching through the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter a day after the United States said the Revolutionary Guards had sent 13 armed speedboats too close to US Navy ships in the Strait.
The United States said at the time that a coast guard fired warning shots when two of the Iranian boats came dangerously close.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal, which raised tensions across the Middle East and sparked a series of attacks and incidents.
With the Vienna talks now at a standstill, Iran has exceeded limits set by the deal and is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest to military purity levels as its stocks continue to grow. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.