The Pentagon is slamming claims by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that IRGC forces thwarted an attempt by the United States to detain a tanker carrying the Islamic Republic’s oil in the Sea of Oman.
“I’ve seen the Iranian claims. They are absolutely, totally false and untrue,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.
Kirby said it was Iran’s forces that illegally seized and boarded a merchant vessel in late October in the Sea of Oman. U.S. forces monitored the situation but “at no time attempted to retake” the vessel or engage with Iranian forces.
“Iran’s actions … constitute a blatant violation of international law. It undermines the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce. The only seizing that was done was by Iran,” Kirby added.
To support Iran’s claims, Iranian state TV aired footage showing a red tanker surrounded by about 10 speedboats, according to Reuters.
‘Unsafe interaction’ in Strait of Hormuz
Meanwhile, a U.S. official told VOA that several drones, believed to be Iranian, flew in an “unsafe interaction” with the USS Essex in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation, told VOA the drones flew within about 1,500 meters of the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship.
Tensions have been high between Tehran and Washington amid stalled talks on reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The deal lifted global sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s curtailing its uranium enrichment program.
Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran. Tehran then violated limits on uranium enrichment that had been established by the deal.