TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iranian state television reported on Thursday that a U.S. ship in the Gulf had been hijacked by speedboats under the country’s paramilitary revolutionary guard. A U.S. Navy spokesman said he was unaware of such an encounter at sea in recent days.
The region is still at the forefront of Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now collapsed 2015 deal with world powers have stalled since June and no date has been set for their resumption.
Thursday’s Iran report featured a video that was filmed on TV of one of the Guard’s speedboats. It shows a ship with a U.S. flag and several crew when a speedboat appears to be chasing it.
There is a voice in Farsi saying, “Go after them.” The report did not tell when the encounter took place.
Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, said he was unaware of any dangerous interactions with Iran over the past two days.
The report is the first of its kind in recent months.
In May, the guard rejected the U.S. Navy’s claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz evoked an exciting encounter the day after the U.S. announced that a revolutionary guard had sent 13 armed speedboats too close to U.S. Navy ships in the strait.
The United States said at the time that a Coast Guard cutter fired warning shots when two Iranian boats came dangerously close.
In the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran sharply restricted uranium enrichment in return for lifting economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the treaty in America, raising tensions throughout the Middle East and launching several attacks and incidents.
Now that the Vienna talks have stalled, Iran has violated the limits set by the treaty and is enriching small quantities of uranium to its nearest all-time level of arms purity as its stockpiles continue to grow. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.