Iran Threatens U.S. Navy Ships Amid Massive War Drills

Tehran claims to have warned off U.S. vessels

Two Iranian warships dock in the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan
Two Iranian warships dock in the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan / Getty Images
January 22, 2018

Iranian military leaders claimed Monday that they threatened two American-led vessels in international waters amid a series of new war drills being carried out by the Islamic Republic, according to regional reports and U.S. military officials who confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon contact with the Iranian vessels.

As Iran carries out a several days long series of war drills in the Sea of Oman, off the country's southern border, military leaders claim to have warned off at least two vessels led by U.S. coalition forces in the region.

U.S. military officials confirmed being in contact with Iranian forces, which is just the latest in a series of provocative interactions between the Iranian military and United States.

"One U.S. warship operating in the Gulf of Oman received a transmission from Iranian maritime forces announcing an Iranian exercise," Cmdr. William Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, told the Free Beacon Monday evening.

U.S military officials say the military vessel continued to carry out its mission, despite the Iranian contact and did not alter its course.

"The U.S. warship continued to execute its mission and did not alter operations as a result of the radio transmission," Urban said. "U.S. warships continue to sail and operate wherever international law allows.

Iranian military leaders had a different version of events, claiming in comments that two U.S.-led warships were instructed to leave the waters where the drills were being held after they were detected by drone surveillance.

"This morning and in the first hours of the drills, two warships of the coalition which had approached the drills zone to monitor the Iranian Navy units were identified by the Navy drones," Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi, who is leading the Iranian war drills, was quoted as telling Iran's state-controlled press outlets.

"After declaring the issue to the drills' tactical base, the patrolling and reconnaissance planes flew over the coalition warships and warned them [to leave the region] and the warships left the drills zone," according to Moussavi.

Iran is in the midst of another set of war drills aimed at testing new military hardware.

Iran's Army, Navy, and Air Defense forces are all participating in the war drills, which will continue for at least the next two days, according to Iran's media.

The Islamic Republic is testing a range of rockets and laser-guided cannons, according to a readout. Tehran also is testing various light and heavy submarines, as well as helicopters and other air defenses.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Free Beacon that Iran has a history of not respecting international waters.

"The problem with the Iranian leadership is that they don't understand that international waters are international," Rubin said. "Then again, respect for international norms has never been Iran's strong suit dating back to their seizure of the U.S. embassy in 1979, an act, by the way, even the so-called reformists with whom [former Secretary of State] John Kerry fell in love and continue to endorse."

Published under: Iran , Military