Photo: Centcom

US issues new warning over Persian Gulf

The United States Navy issued a veiled warning to the Islamic Republic to maintain distance from U.S. warships or face “defensive measures.”

Spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Fleet, Commander Rebecca Rebarish, informed TV7 in a written statement that “ Due to recent events and in coordination with the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command issued a Notice to Mariners (NOTMAR) to enhance safety, minimize ambiguity and reduce opportunities for miscalculation.”

Cmdr. Rebarish explained that U.S. naval vessels are “conducting routine operations in international waters wherever international law allows, and do not seek conflict, however, our commanding officers retain the right to self-defense if deemed necessary.” She further added that the U.S. navy “advises all mariners to maintain a safe distance of at least 100 meters from U.S. naval vessels in international waters (or) straits,” and emphasized that “Armed vessels approaching within 100 meters of a U.S. naval vessel may be interpreted as a threat and subject to lawful defensive measures.”

In her statement, the U.S. 5th Fleet Spokeswoman further highlighted that “All vessels operating in the vicinity of U.S. naval vessels are advised to clearly communicate intentions, respond to queries concerning course and speed, exercise principles of prudent seamanship as required under international law and the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and remain at a safe distance from U.S. naval forces.”

The warning comes just over a month after the Pentagon released footage purporting to show a number armed naval vessels belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps harassing American battleships on international waters of the Persian Gulf, in what Washington denounced as “dangerous and provocative” actions. The incident prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to “instruct the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass (the American) ships at sea.”

After an initial denial by Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami, the Ayatollah Regime eventually claimed it had been conducting surveillance of what it referred to as “terror vessels” in the area.

Hatami responded to the latest warning from Washington by declaring, “The naval units of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman will continue their regular missions in accordance with professional principles as in the past.”

The Iranian top defense official also leveled a warning of his own, proclaiming that “any act of aggression against Iran’s national interests and security will receive a rapid, decisive and crushing response from the Islamic Republic.”

While last month’s threat by President Trump seemingly deterred Iran’s military arm from directly provoking the U.S. Navy, Tehran has not shied away from instructing its proxies to harass Western vessels in the Gulf.

A TV7 investigation has revealed that two armed speedboats attacked a United Kingdom-flagged tanker called the Stolt Apal about 100 miles off the coast of Yemen. According to TV7 intelligence sources, the perpetrators were Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

In a written response to TV7’s request for comment, the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) confirmed it monitored the incident, which is within its mandated area of operations.

The Commander of the UK-led mission, Commodore Rob Bellfield, told TV7 in a statement: “While we do not yet know who is responsible for this incident, it serves as an example of the behavior (the IMSC) is here to deter.”

He further emphasized that “No immediate threat to the free flow of shipping was assessed, and no further action was taken by IMSC vessels or aircraft.”

TV7 intelligence sources say, however, that the IRGC appears to be encouraging its proxies to interfere with Western vessels; in activity that is closely being observed by the US, UK and other allied naval missions in the strategic region.