U.S. says Iranian gunboats harassed warships
U.S. says Iranian gunboats harassed warships
Tuesday, January 8,2008 16:34
By Jim Miklaszewski

Iranian Revolutionary Guard gunboats harassed three U.S. Navy warships in the Strait of Hormuz Sunday, in what the U.S. military officials described as a "significant provocative act."

Military officials told NBC News Monday that two U.S. Navy destroyers and one frigate were heading into the Persian Gulf through the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz when five armed "fast boats" of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard approached a high speed, darting in and out of the formation.At one point a radio message from one of the Iranian boats warned, "You are going to blow up within minutes."

The Navy warships went into defensive mode, radioed the usual warnings to steer clear, and in the end no shots were fired. U.S. military warships believe the Revolutionary Guard boats were "testing our defenses," the officials said.The White House warned Tehran against taking such actions in the future. "We urge the Iranians to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment Monday, and there was no news of the incident on Iranian state-run media.

Rising tension
The United States expressed concern when the Revolutionary Guard forces took over Iranian naval operations in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz from the regular navy more than five months ago.However, Sunday’s incident was the first significant act of provocation since then.Historical tensions between the two nations have increased in recent years over Washington"s charge that Tehran has been developing nuclear weapons and supplying and training Iraqi insurgents using roadside bombs -- the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Iraq.

In another incident off its coast, Iranian Revolutionary Guard sailors last March captured 15 British sailors and held them for nearly two weeks.The 15 sailors from HMS Cornwall, including one woman, were captured on March 23. Iran claims the crew, operating in a small patrol craft, had intruded into Iranian waters -- a claim denied by Britain.

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