By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) – A U.S. Coast Guard ship fired about 30 warning shots after 13 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came close to it and other American Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, the Pentagon said on Monday.
This is the second time within the last month that U.S. military vessels have had to fire warning shots because of what they said was unsafe behavior by Iranian vessels in the region, after a relative lull in such interactions over the past year.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the warning shots were fired after the Iranian fast boats came as close as 150 yards (450 feet) of six U.S. military vessels, including the USS Monterey, that were escorting the guided-missile submarine Georgia.
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maui fired the warning shots from a .50-caliber machine gun before the Iranian vessels left, Kirby said.
“It’s significant… and they were acting very aggressively,” he said, adding that the number of Iranian vessels was more than in the recent past.
In April, a U.S. military ship fired warning shots after three vessels from IRGCN came close to it and another American patrol boat in the Gulf.
The latest incident comes as world powers and Iran seek to speed up efforts to bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.
U.S. officials returned to Vienna last week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021.
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