US fires warning shots at Iranian boats in Gulf

The guided-missile submarine USS Georgia transits the Strait of Hormuz with the guided-missile cruisers USS Port Royal and USS Philippine Sea
The US Navy vessels were escorting USS Georgia, a guided-missile submarine, as it transited the Strait of Hormuz

A US Coast Guard ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats that came close to American naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon says.

The Pentagon said 13 fast boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came within 140m (459ft) of US vessels on Monday.

The Iranian vessels left after 30 warning shots were fired, the Pentagon said. This is the second such incident in the region in two weeks.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby accused the Iranian boats of “acting very aggressively” near the US military vessels, which were escorting USS Georgia, a guided-missile submarine.

“It’s unsafe, it’s unprofessional. It’s the kind of activity that can lead to somebody getting hurt, and can lead to a real miscalculation there in the region,” he said. “That doesn’t serve anybody’s interests.”

Two Iranian craft come close to the USCGC Maui as it transits the Strait of Hormuz
The Pentagon accused the Iranian boats of “acting very aggressively”

There was no immediate comment from Iran, the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel in the Gulf region, is one of the world’s most important shipping routes. It has been at the centre of rising tensions between Iran and Western countries – including the US – in recent years.

Last month, the US Navy said one of its ships fired warning shots in response to the close approach of Iranian vessels in the northern part of the Gulf.

Monday’s incident comes at a delicate time in a diplomatic process to revive an international deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The US pulled out of the 2015 agreement under former US President Donald Trump and Iran has since stepped up its production of nuclear materials.

Iran has said it would consider rejoining the deal if Mr Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, removes crippling economic against the Islamic Republic.

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