By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's Foreign Ministry said Monday that a confrontation between Iranian boats
and U.S. Navy ships
in the Persian Gulf over the weekend was "something normal" and was resolved. It suggested the Iranian boats had not recognized
the U.S. vessels.
The Pentagon said that in the incident early Sunday, five
small Iranian boats repeatedly "charged" U.S. warships in the Gulf's Hormuz Strait and dropped boxes in the water. The boats
warned the U.S. ships that they would set up "explosions," a U.S. Defense Department official said.
The U.S. craft were on the verge of opening fire when the Iranian boats
fled, the official said, calling the incidident "the most serious provocation of its sort" in the Gulf. The official spoke
on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini played down
the incident, suggesting it was an issue of mistaken identity. He did not comment on the U.S. claims of the Iranian boats'
"That is something normal that takes place every now and then for each party,
and it (the problem) is settled after identification of the two parties," he told the state news agency IRNA.
The incident was "similar to past ones" that were resolved "once the two
sides recognized each other."
U.S. Navy and Iranian officials have said in the past that vessels from
the two rival nations frequently come into contact in the waters of the narrow, heavily trafficked Gulf. They often communicate
by radio to avoid incidents.
But the latest incident was the first time U.S. officials have spoken of
such a direct threat from Iranian boats.
The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time Sunday as Navy cruiser
USS Port Royal, destroyer USS Hopper and frigate USS Ingraham were on their way into the Persian Gulf and passing through
the strait — a major oil shipping route.
Five small boats began charging the U.S. ships, dropping boxes in the water
in front of the ships and forcing the U.S. ships to take evasive maneuvers, the Pentagon official said.
There were no injuries but the official said there could have been, because
the Iranian boats turned away "literally at the very moment that U.S. forces were preparing to open fire" in self defense.
The official said he didn't have the precise transcript of communications
that passed between the two forces, but said the Iranians radioed something like "we're coming at you and you'll explode in
a couple minutes."
Here To Watch the Pentagon's Tape of Iranian Boats Threatening U.S. Ships
— U.S. officials: Iran incident most serious in years http://www.capveterans.com/the_year_of_2008/id7.html
Sunday, Iranian boats repeatedly
"charged" U.S. warships in the Gulf The next time, Iran's navy may carryout their threat to set up explosives.