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Obama’s Iran Deal Ignited an Arms Race in the Middle East

Regime uses sanctions relief to beef up weaponry, leading their neighbors to do the same.

When a speedboat manned by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel approached American vessels operating in open water, the U.S. Navy patrol craft USS Thunderbolt issued a series of warnings, all translating as “stay away, keep safe distance.” The Revolutionary Guards kept coming, as they often do, probing until the USN reacts.

A fanatic’s boat weaving among American warships could disrupt the U.S. formation and cause a collision. Tehran propagandists would tout that as a victory at sea. Worse, an Iranian boat might be a water-borne bomb capable of sinking a big ship. The deadly October 2000 terror attack on the USS Cole is very much on the minds of Navy sailors when Iran’s small boats appear. Read the rest of this entry »

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Two US Navy Boats Reportedly in Iranian Custody

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“Earlier today, we lost contact with two small U.S. naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain. We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey.”

— Senior administration official

Two Navy boats are reportedly in Iranian custody, according to the Associated Press.

Iran has reportedly told the US that the crew will be returned “promptly.”

“Earlier today, we lost contact with two small U.S. naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain,” a senior administration official said in a statement.

 

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Google Earth/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

“We are working to resolve the situation such that any US personnel are returned to their normal deployment. We are hopeful it will be resolved.”

— White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey.” Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: U.S. Carrier Harry S. Truman Has Close Call With Iranian Rockets

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 and The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman came about 1,500 yards from an Iranian rocket in the Strait of Hormuz last week, two U.S. military officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

As the Truman was transiting the strait, which connects the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, Iranian Revolutionary Guards conducted a live-fire exercise right near the U.S. carrier Saturday, officials said.

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Meanwhile, in Hawaii

A U.S. military official said an Iranian navy fast and short attack craft began conducting a live-fire exercise at the same time the carrier was nearing the end of the strait, firing off several unguided rockets. A French frigate, the U.S. destroyer USS Buckley and other commercial traffic were also in the area.

[Read the full report here, at NBC News]

The official said the U.S. ships were in the “internationally recognized maritime traffic lane” at the time, not in any territorial waters, when the Iranian navy announced over maritime radio that it was about to conduct a live-fire exercise and asked other vessels to remain clear. Read the rest of this entry »


Maersk Tigris Update: Cargo Ship Seized by Iran released 10 Days Later, its Crew Safe

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Christine Mai-Duc reports: Iran has released a commercial cargo ship more than a week after it was seized by Iranian naval forces, the ship operator confirmed Thursday.

The Maersk Tigris, which was seized on April 28, was freed by Iranian officials after a court order, according to Cor Radings, a spokesman for Rickmers Shipmanagement, which manages and crews the vessel. Iran’s Ports and Maritive Organization confirmed the ship’s release.

Map depicting the MV Maersk Tigris’ original path toward the UAE and diversion after being intercepted by the IRGCN. (Source: marinetraffic.com)

The ship’s 24 crew members are in good condition, the company said in a statement. Radings added that “absolutely no violence” was used by the crew’s Iranian captors during the incident. The ship will now continue on to the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, where company officials will meet and attend to the crew.

“Given the circumstances, they were treated in a fair way,” Radings told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE Strait of Hormuz: U.S. Navy Ships to Accompany US-Flagged Ships in Gulf

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U.S. defense officials say U.S. Navy ships will begin accompanying U.S.-flagged commercial ships when they transit the Strait of Hormuz.

The move is in response to what Washington views as provocative Iranian behavior in the Persian Gulf. Earlier this week Iranian naval vessels reportedly fired warning shots near a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship and have detained it and its crew. Iranian officials say the Maersk shipping line owes it money…(read more)

ABC News


UPDATE: Contact Made With Crew of Ship Detained by Iran: Sailors on Maersk Tigris in Good Condition but Confined to Cabins

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DUBAI— Asa Fitch reports: The manager of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship Iran seized in the Persian Gulf said its crew members were in good condition, but were confined by guards to their cabins and the ship’s mess area.

“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us.”

Rickmers Shipmanagement, the Singapore-based global shipping company that operates the M/V Maersk Tigris, had brief phone contact with the crew of 24, most of whom are from Eastern Europe and Asia, said Cor Radings, Rickmers’ spokesman.

“They’re all in relatively good condition, but it’s not a good situation and is still of concern to us,” Mr. Radings said. He added that the company was working with “international parties and experts” to secure the ship’s release, although he declined to provide details of that effort.

“Cargo-vessel seizures are a rarity in the Gulf, through which hundreds of ships carrying oil exports travel each day.”

On Tuesday, an Iranian patrol fired warning shots over the bow of the Maersk Tigris and directed it to a rendezvous point close to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, said U.S. officials and Rickmers. Rickmers said the ship was in international waters at the time.

In response to a distress call by the Maersk Tigris, the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer Tuesday to the Strait of Hormuz, the 21-mile-wide passage through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments pass.

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“The seizure comes as conflict in Yemen has heightened tensions with Saudi Arabia, which sits on the southwestern shore of the Gulf, and Iran, which sits across from it.”

On Wednesday, the USS Farragut and three other smaller Navy ships were keeping watch on the strait and sending surveillance planes overhead, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Under agreements between the U.S. and Marshall Islands, Col. Warren said the military had a treaty obligation to protect the Maersk Tigris, but said the U.S. was pursuing diplomatic options to resolve the confrontation.

Pentagon officials said Iran’s intentions in seizing the cargo ship were unclear. Some officials said they saw the move as an effort by Tehran to demonstrate its ability to control the strait after the U.S. military moved an aircraft carrier through the region as a warning to Iran to turn back a flotilla suspected of carrying weapons bound for Tehran’s allies in Yemen. Read the rest of this entry »


Iran Fires on, Seizes U.S. Ship in Gulf

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Pentagon officials say the US is monitoring the seizure by Iran of a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship

Iran has opened fire at a U.S. cargo ship and directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters Iranian forces had boarded a Marshall Island-flagged vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, in the Gulf. He said the boarding occurred after Iranian patrol boats fired shots across the vessel’s bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters.

U.S. planes and a destroyer were monitoring the situation after the vessel, the MV Maersk Tigris, made a distress call in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil shipping channels.

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The ship had no U.S. citizens aboard, the spokesman said, contradicting earlier reports which said there were 34 U.S. sailors on board.

Reuters tracking data showed the Maersk, a 65,000-tonne container ship, off the Iranian coast between the islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. It was listed as sailing from the Saudi port of Jeddah, bound for the United Arab Emirates port of Jebel Ali.

A U.S. government official said the ship was intercepted by the Naval force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at 0905 GMT. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Navy Offical Reports: U.S. Warship Heads to Yemeni Waters

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DEVELOPING: U.S. Navy officials say the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen and will join other American ships prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of Iranian ships may be headed toward Yemen to arm the Houthis.

The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.

There are about nine U.S. ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels. Read the rest of this entry »


America Chooses a Navy: Competition with China for the Global Future

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George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”

This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.

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One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China. Read the rest of this entry »


Hagel Orders U.S. Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered an aircraft carrier — the USS George H.W. Bush — to move from the northern Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf as President Barack Obama considers possible military options for Iraq.

Hagel's press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby

Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby briefs reporters in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room. Photo by Glenn Fawcett

Hagel’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, says the order will give the president added flexibility if military action is required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »