Washington: A US Navy patrol ship that had come in close range of Iranian speed boats, fired warning shots at Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels in international waters of the northern Persian Gulf, according to the US Navy.
Three IRGCN armed speed boats on Monday rapidly approached US Navy patrol coastal ship USS Firebolt and a US Coast Guard patrol boat to "unnecessarily close range with unknown intent, including the closest point of approach of 68 yards (62 meters) to both US ships," the Navy said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The US crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio and loud-hailer devices, but the IRGCN vessels continued their close-range maneuvers," the statement said.
"The crew of Firebolt then fired warning shots, and the IRGCN vessels moved away to a safe distance from the US vessels."
US media pointed out the fact that it was the first time the US Navy had fired on Iranian vessels in nearly four years, the Xinhua news agency reported.Iran has not made any comment on the incident in the Persian Gulf which is the first of such encounters since last April.
The incident also assumes significance in the background of the indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal of 2015, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since President Trump had unilaterally withdrawn from the agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, the latter also stopped implementing parts of its commitments under the JCPOA in May 2019, I.e, one year after Trump's decision.