segunda-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2008

Iranians threaten to blow up US Navy ships

A Pentagon spokesman revealed that five Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy boats harrassed and provoked three US ships in the narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf at the weekend.

The Iranian craft came within 200 yards of the US vessels, which were sailing in international waters.

The Iranian provocations included disregarding warnings to pull back, dropping mysterious objects in the path of the US ships and a hostile radio transmission.

The Pentagon said a radio message warned: "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."

The Iranian boats pulled away as a US Navy captain gave his crew orders to open fire.

"Five small boats were acting in a very aggressive way, charging the ships, dropping boxes in the water in front of the ships and causing our ships to take evasive manoeuvres," the Pentagon official said.

"There were no injuries but there very well could have been."

The incident further clouds US judgements about Iran's strategic intentions in the Persian Gulf. Tensions over Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons have seen the US navy and its Iranian counterparts move to a tense stand-off.

A US-led coalition has steadily built up its firepower in the sensitive strait and Iranian commanders manoeuvre dangerously in response.

In March, Iran seized 15 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines in the Gulf and accused them of trespassing in Iranian territory while they inspected a merchant vessel. The Government maintained that they were in Iraqi waters.

The British personnel were held for almost two weeks before being freed in what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said was a "gift" to the British people.

Iran's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the Pentagon's claims, first reported on CNN.

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