In the latest indication that a full-blown conflict between Iran and the US is just one false-flagged provocation away, on Monday Iranian military leaders claimed that they threatened two US Navy ship in international waters amid a series of new war drills being carried out by the Islamic Republic, according to regional reports and the Washington Free Beacon.
According to Fars news agency, as Iran was carrying out a several day-long series of war drills in the Sea of Oman off the country's southern border, the local military claimed it had threatened and chased away two US coalition ships.
U.S. military officials confirmed they were in contact with Iranian forces: "One U.S. warship operating in the Gulf of Oman received a transmission from Iranian maritime forces announcing an Iranian exercise," Cmdr. William Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, told the Free Beacon Monday evening. The US ship then continued to carry out its mission, despite the Iranian contact and did not alter its course.
Meanwhile, the Iranian version of events was slightly different, with military leaders claiming that two U.S.-led warships were instructed to leave the waters where the drills were being held after they were detected by drone surveillance.
"This morning and in the first hours of the drills, two warships of the coalition which had approached the drills zone to monitor the Iranian Navy units were identified by the Navy drones," Rear Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi, who is leading the Iranian navy drills, told Iran's state-controlled Fars media.
"After declaring the issue to the drills' tactical base, the patrolling and reconnaissance planes flew over the coalition warships and warned them [to leave the region] and the warships left the drills zone," he added
With relations between the US and Iran once again at rock bottom, Iran has been in the midst of another round of war drills meant to test new military hardware. Iran's Army, Navy, and Air Defense forces are all participating in the war drills, which will continue at least one more day.
In addition to navy drill,s the Islamic Republic is testing a range of rockets and laser-guided cannons, according to the Free Beacon. Tehran also is testing various light and heavy submarines, as well as helicopters and other air defenses.
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Free Beacon that Iran has a history of not respecting international waters.
"The problem with the Iranian leadership is that they don't understand that international waters are international," Rubin said. "Then again, respect for international norms has never been Iran's strong suit dating back to their seizure of the U.S. embassy in 1979, an act, by the way, even the so-called reformists with whom [former Secretary of State] John Kerry fell in love and continue to endorse."
Well, with Iranian ships supposedly sailing toward the Gulf of Mexico, we may soon find out just how understanding of international waters the US leadership is when a Persian destroyer is observed sailing a a hundreds miles off the Texas coast.