US official: Iranian missiles spotted in Persian Gulf

US official: Iranian missiles loaded on small boats were among the "threats" that triggered beefed-up military deployment in Middle East.

Ben Ariel,

Iranian-made Emad missile
Iranian-made Emad missile

A US official said on Thursday that Iranian missiles loaded on small boats in the Persian Gulf were among the "threats" that have triggered a beefed-up military deployment in the region, AFP reported.

"The missiles on civilian boats are a concern," said the official, who asked not to be named.

The official was confirming reports in The New York Times saying that Washington reacted to aerial photos from US intelligence agencies showing traditional boats carrying Iranian missiles in the Gulf, one of the world's most strategic waterways.

The fully-assembled missiles were loaded on the boats by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which the US has designated a "foreign terrorist organization," the newspaper reported.

"What the military and the intelligence are concerned about is the intent," the US official told AFP.

Last week, the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move that US officials said was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

Days after the deployment, US officials told CNN that intelligence showing that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf was one of the critical reasons for the move.

The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, did not deny the shipment of the missiles in an interview with National Public Radio.

"We have to prepare ourselves," he said. "I am not in a position to talk about military preparedness in Iran. But what I can tell you is that all these allegations are part of fake allegations which are being directed against Iran to prepare something like a conflict or something like a war."

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf.

Recently, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, as well as US aircraft carriers in the Gulf. These bases, he said, are within range of Iranian missiles which have a range of 700 km (450 miles).