USA Navy Says It Foiled Iranian Attempt to Capture Sea Drone
The US Navy said it thwarted an attempt by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to capture an unmanned American vessel in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, as tensions persist despite efforts by the countries to resolve their deadlock over restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.
After an IRGC ship was spotted towing the so-called sail-drone late on Monday, a nearby US patrol boat responded by launching a combat helicopter, according to a statement by the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The Iranian vessel then disconnected its tow line from the sea drone and left the area four hours later without further incident, according to the US account. The drone ship is commercially available and equipped with sensors, radars and cameras for navigation and data collection. The ship doesn’t store sensitive or classified information, the Navy said.
But Iran’s state-run Nour News called the US Navy’s account a “false, Hollywood narrative,” adding that the Iranian ship “seized control of and towed the American boat to ensure the safety of the shipping route and prevent possible incidents.”
The boat was released at the order of the IRGC ship’s commander after Americans were “made to understand issues pertaining to security and safe navigation,” Nour said, without saying where it obtained the information.
The altercation comes at an intense time for Washington and Tehran in their protracted efforts to restore the landmark atomic accord that lifted sanctions on Iran’s economy -- including vital oil exports -- in exchange for strict curbs on its nuclear activity.
The latest bid to revive the agreement has been framed by European mediators as a final push, and the bloc has spent the past two weeks ferrying proposals between the countries as they haggle over remaining sticking points.
President Donald Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal in 2018 triggered a security crisis in the Persian Gulf that’s been largely defined by tit-for-tat attacks on shipping and energy installations in the area.
--With assistance from Roxana Tiron and Arsalan Shahla.
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