New evidence sparks uncertainty over US-Iran naval incident in Hormuz
Iranian video shows apparently routine activity by Iranian patrol boats, while Pentagon officials say radio threat may not have been from Iranian forces.
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The Daily Telegraph reports that the Iranian tape, aired Thursday by Iran's state-owned Press TV, was meant to reinforce Tehran's argument that the incident between Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrols and US warships on Sunday was a "normal inspections of vessels," not a hostile act.
The video showed an Iranian naval officer on a small boat speaking via radio to a ship which can not be clearly identified. A total of three ships can be seen on the video.
The Iranian officer says: "Coalition warship 73 this Iranian navy patrol boat".
"This is coalition warship 73. I read you loud and clear," the person replied in what appears to be an American accent.
The Iranian officer then appears to ask for the ships to identify themselves, although not all his words can be understood:
"Coalition warship 73 this Iranian navy patrol boat, request side number ... operating in the area this time," the Iranian voice says.
The tape stands in sharp contrast to US video of the incident released earlier, which Pentagon officials said showed a "careless, reckless and potentially hostile" confrontation on the Iranians' part, The Christian Science Monitor reporter earlier this week.
Three US Navy ships – the cruiser USS Port Royal, the destroyer USS Hopper, and the frigate USS Ingraham – were on patrol about 12 miles from Iranian territory in the Strait of Hormuz early Sunday when five small boats associated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards approached them, Pentagon officials said. The fast boats, highly maneuverable patrol craft, were "visibly armed," a Pentagon spokesman said, and began aggressive maneuvers against the three American ships, steaming in formation into the Persian Gulf.
The boats got within 200 to 500 yards of the American ships before splitting into two groups. At least one of the fast boats then dropped several white boxes in the water in the pathway of the Ingraham, which successfully dodged them, considering them potential floating mines. Commanders of the US ships also received radio communications thought to be from one of the Iranian boats in which they heard an individual say in English, "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."