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Iran Photographed US Ship in 'Close Encounter’ in Persian Gulf

An Iranian plane came within 1,000 yards of a US ship and photographed it in what the US said was a "close encounter". Iran: Right to surveillance.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/4/2010, 2:39 PM / Last Update: 5/4/2010, 2:50 PM

An Iranian military plane recently came within 1,000 yards of a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf in what American officials said was a "close encounter". The report was made public on Monday the day before, Tehran announced more “war games” to be held in the Gulf starting this week, this time to go on for eight days.

The semi-official Fars Iranian news agency quoted Iranian naval commander Habibollah Sayyari as saying that an S-27 aircraft photographed the U.S. ship and that Iran has the  "duty and right" to identify foreign vessels in the area. "Despite the objection of this vessel, we reiterate firmly that doing this is our definite right," he said. Iran "has the right to conduct routine surveillance flights.”

Approximately 40 percent of the world's gas and oil supplies sail through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

The incident apparently involved the USS Eisenhower, which military officials disclosed was buzzed on April 21, Reuters reported.

The close encounter and Iran’s announcement of new military drills raised tensions between Tehran and the United States, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has constantly disparaged as an enemy of Islam and an ally of the “Zionist entity.”

The latest military drills are set to begin on Wednesday and will allegedly cover 97,000 square miles of Iranian territorial waters. Sayyari said, “The massive maneuvers dubbed Velayat-89 will show defensive and deterrent naval power," and submarine and air force units will participate.

Less than two weeks ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards staged four days of maneuvers in the Gulf and tested missiles and a new speedboat that Iran claims can destroy enemy ships.

Iran also announced this week that it has produced a short-range artillery system that fires 4,000 shots a minute. ”The system has been produced to confront military threats flying at low altitudes such as cruise missiles," according to Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, quoted by Fars.