Iran flies surveillance drone over U.S. aircraft carrier

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. aircraft carrier and published video of the encounter Friday, the latest in a series of edgy naval incidents between the two countries in the Persian Gulf after the recent nuclear deal.

See Full Article

While the U.S. Navy stressed it knew the drone was unarmed and the flyover didn't interrupt U.S. operations in the war against the Islamic State group, the incident underlined the continued tension over control of waterways crucial to global oil supplies. It follows a rocket test last month by the Islamic Republic near coalition warships and commercial traffic, as well as Iran's brief capture of American sailors who strayed into its territorial waters.

Iranian state television and the semi-official Fars news agency, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guard, published identical images Friday both said came from the drone. The footage, which The Associated Press could not independently verify, purported to show the drone being launched and then hovering over an unidentified aircraft carrier, a targeting bracket briefly passing over a jet parked on the deck below.

The Iranian reports suggested the footage was from Friday. However, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said an unarmed Iranian drone flew near the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and "directly over" the USS Harry S. Truman on Jan. 12 as the vessels were in international waters in the Persian Gulf.

He said the Navy launched a helicopter that determined the drone wasn't armed and "posed no danger to the ship" as the carrier wasn't conducting flight operations at the time. His comments implied that had there been active takeoffs and landings of U.S. aircraft, the situation might have changed.

Stephens called the drone's flight "abnormal and unprofessional." He added that the U.S. Navy was "not in a position to verify the authenticity of the video as there are countless examples of similar footage to be found on the Internet."

The nuclear-powered USS Harry S. Truman, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, is in the Persian Gulf region launching airstrikes and supporting operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran's navy, called the drone overflight "a sign of bravery."

It "allowed our men to go so close to the warship and shoot such a beautiful and accurate footage of the combat units of the foreign forces," he told state television.

State television and the state-run IRNA news agency said an Iranian light submarine also participated in the surveillance operation. When asked about the presence of a submarine, Stephens said: "Iran has several submarines ... for its current exercise," but declined to discuss specifics.

In Washington, U.S. Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Marks stressed America remains ready to use force if necessary.

"We are confident in our force's ability to respond appropriately as the situation dictates and will defend ourselves should that prove necessary," he said.

Iran's navy began a naval drill this week over a 3-million-square-kilometre (1.16-million-square-mile) area including parts of the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Iran said Wednesday its navy warned a U.S. warship to leave an area of the naval drill. The U.S. Navy later denied its operations were affected.

Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers, including the U.S., last year to limit its atomic program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. The sanctions ended this month and many average Iranians continue to wait to feel their effect.

Meanwhile, in recent months, Iran has shown footage of underground missile bases on state television and conducted ballistic missile tests criticized by the U.S.

Iran has more than 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) of shoreline facing the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Control of that territory, including the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes, has remained a priority for Iran's military and it conducts regular drills in the region.

The U.S. has criticized some of those manoeuvrs, including what it called a "highly provocative" Iranian rocket test in December near U.S. warships and commercial traffic passing through the strait. Iran denied the test was provocative. The U.S. later released footage showing the rocket fire.

Earlier this month, Iranian forces captured 10 U.S. Navy sailors who entered Iranian territorial waters near Farsi Island, an outpost in the middle of the Gulf. The sailors were released in less than a day, though Iranian state media aired footage of the sailors' capture, angering U.S. politicians.

Past confrontations have been far worse.

In April 1988, the U.S. attacked two Iranian oil rigs and sank or damaged six Iranian vessels, including two naval frigates after the near-sinking of the missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts by an Iranian mine, laid amid the Islamic Republic's bloody 1980s war with Iraq.

A few months later, in July 1988, the USS Vincennes in the strait mistook an Iran Air flight heading to Dubai for an attacking fighter jet, shooting down the plane and killing all 290 passengers and crew.

In this latest incident, however, Iran likely wanted to showcase its locally made drones, as well as appease hard-liners suspicious of the nuclear deal, said Joshua Shifrinson, a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

"They live in a competitive world and the U.S. might change its mind on the nuclear deal, especially if a different administration comes in," Shifrinson said. "Iran also has other opponents in and around the Gulf, all of which means Iran wants to remind people that just because they co-operated does not mean they're turning belly up and are going to surrender everything."

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 2 Canadians among dead in Mexico nightclub shooting [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    CANCUN, Mexico — Two Canadians are among five people killed today in a shooting attack at an electronic music festival in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort of Playa del Carmen. And the Canadian government says at least two Canadians were among the injured in the same attack. Source
  • Unethical behaviour? Following Bahamas trip, Trudeau investigated over use of Aga Khan’s helicopter

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s New Year’s holiday in the Bahamas, Postmedia Network has learned, the first time a sitting prime minister has come under scrutiny by the independent parliamentary watchdog. Source
  • 'I fought back': A mother's fight to clear her name in toddler death

    Canada News CTV News
    Two decades after her toddler Jenna was brutally murdered by a teenaged babysitter, Brenda Waudby is finally getting the opportunity to grieve. The single mother from Peterborough, Ont., has never had the opportunity to properly mourn the loss of her almost two-year-old daughter because she spent nine years trying to clear her name as a murder suspect in the case and another seven years refuting allegations of child abuse. Source
  • British pound drops to lowest since 1985 as Theresa May to outline Brexit plan

    World News CBC News
    The British pound fell to its lowest since 1985 on Monday after speculation ramped up that British Prime Minister Theresa May will lay out her plans for a so-called "hard Brexit" from the EU to European lawmakers tomorrow. Source
  • UN official: 10,000 civilians killed in Yemen conflict

    World News CTV News
    SANAA, Yemen -- The United Nations' humanitarian aid official in Yemen said Monday that the civilian death toll in the nearly two-year conflict has reached 10,000, with 40,000 others wounded. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' Jamie McGoldrick told reporters the figure is based on lists of victims gathered by health facilities and the actual number might be higher. Source
  • Car vs. bike: Driver pushing cyclist, caught on video

    Canada News CTV News
    Ottawa police say they will not lay charges after a startling confrontation captured on video, in which a driver can be seen using his vehicle to push a cyclist at an intersection. The video shows a man on a bike and another man in a grey car arguing with each other at a busy intersection in Ottawa, where bike lanes run alongside vehicle lanes. Source
  • Kids born to opioid-addicted moms seem to fare poorly in school

    World News CBC News
    Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs when addictive drugs such as opioids or sedatives pass through the placenta during pregnancy. (Torsten Mangner/Flickr) Children exposed to addictive drugs in the womb may be more likely to perform poorly in school, Australian researchers report. Source
  • Ethics watchdog investigates Trudeau's vacation in the Bahamas

    Canada News CBC News
    Canada's ethics commissioner has launched an investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's family vacation to the Aga Khan's private island home in the Bahamas. In a letter to Conservative ethics critic Blain Calkins that is stamped "Confidential" and was obtained by CBC News, Mary Dawson said she is "satisfied" the issues he has raised about Trudeau's travel meet the requirements for an investigation. Source
  • New Brunswick university establishes new cybersecurity institute

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- The University of New Brunswick opened a new cybersecurity institute Monday in hopes of establishing an educational hub for one of the most pressing issues in the information age. University officials, industry partners and members of the federal and provincial governments announced the launch of the Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity in Fredericton. Source
  • World’s 8 richest men own as much as 3.6 billion poorest

    World News Toronto Sun
    DAVOS, Switzerland — The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by Oxfam released Monday. Source