- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Iranian ships conducted “unsafe maneuvers” and ignored U.S. military warnings for three hours during a dangerous encounter in the Persian Gulf earlier this month, Pentagon officials said.

An Iranian warship and three smaller fast-attack craft cut in front of Coast Guard vessels on April 2, risking a collision and putting the crews of both vessels in jeopardy. Officials with the Navy’s Fifth Fleet told The Associated Press in a statement that the Iranian ships acknowledged U.S. communications but refused to heed repeated warnings.

“The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns, and while the [Iranian ship] Harth 55 responded to the bridge-to-bridge radio queries, they continued the unsafe maneuvers,” said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, Fifth Fleet spokesperson. “After approximately three hours of the U.S. issuing warning and conducting defensive maneuvers, the [Iranian] vessels maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the incident late Monday. It appears to have been the first such encounter between U.S. and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf in about a year.

Despite the high military tensions between the two countries, the Biden administration continues diplomatic outreach to Tehran. The two nations have taken part in indirect negotiations in Vienna this month in the hopes of resurrecting the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Former President Trump withdrew from that pact in 2018.

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