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American Forces Press Service

Gates Calls on Iran to Disavow Aggressors at Sea

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 8, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called on Iran yesterday to disavow the actions of five high-speed boats that reportedly threatened to blow up three U.S. Navy warships in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

Gates spoke with reporters after touring the USS New Orleans here and having lunch with some of the ship’s sailors.

Defense officials said five Iranian Revolutionary Guard high-speed craft approached the USS Port Royal, USS Hopper and USS Ingraham as they were entering the Persian Gulf yesterday morning. The boats maneuvered aggressively, threatened the ships via bridge-to-bridge radio and dropped objects into the water in the general path of one of the ships, officials said.

“I found the action by the Iranians quite troubling, actually, and a matter of real concern,” Gates said. “This is a very volatile area, and the risk of an incident escalating is real. I think that it is a reminder that there is a very unpredictable government in Tehran. And it would be nice to see the Iranian government disavow this action and say that it won’t happen again.”

The Iranian boats left after the U.S. Navy ships were preparing to open fire, officials said. No shots were fired.

“It’s just a reminder of how volatile the situation is in the Gulf, and when the Iranians act aggressively like this they create circumstances that can be very dangerous,” Gates said.

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