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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Bloomberg reports that Cmdr. Lydia Robertson, spokeswoman for the Fifth Fleet, also admitted that the radio threat may have come from another ship or from shore, though she added that the Iranian boats were moving threateningly before the radio threat was received.Skip to next paragraph
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A reader comment posted on The New York Times blog The Lede, and later reposted in the blog itself, suggests that the confrontation may have been sparked by a third party. The reader, who said he has served as an officer aboard a US destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz region, writes that the harassment by Iranian patrols is "totally believeable." He adds the caveat, however, that the radio channel over which the US warships and the Iranian patrols were communicating, UHF frequency channel 16, is like "bad CB radio" in the Persian Gulf.
Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away.... On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. [are] commonplace. So my first thought was that the "explode" comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility. The Navy even seemed to admit as much today when they said the transmission could not be traced directly to the small boats.
So I hope everybody exercises great caution here and doesn't jump to conclusions, given the circumstances and potential for escalation.
What I do want everybody to know is that those Navy crews are doing their damned best out there, and given the current situation/previous experience with the USS Cole, would certainly be justified in shooting at any small craft that makes aggressive runs at them, especially after being warned.
How can we forge a positive outcome from this incident? In accepting that the American naval passage was indeed routine, Iran is not only conveying that U.S. and other coalition naval ships have the right to pass through the Straits, but also that any incidents that occur need not escalate to a shooting war. ...
If Iran wants to claim its innocence, why not take advantage of its mendacity to start a professional dialogue between two navies and set the path to ensure that such incidents in the future don't escalate to war?