'Iran-US Gulf incident clip fabricated' (video)

Iranian TV dismisses recordings of boats confronting US warships while apparently ignoring warnings.

iranian boats harass 224 (photo credit: AP)
iranian boats harass 224
(photo credit: AP)
Iran on Wednesday called video and audio released by the Pentagon showing Iranian Revolutionary Guards boats confronting US warships in the Strait of Hormuz "fabricated," an English-language state-run television station reported. "The footage released by the US Navy was compiled using file pictures and the audio has been fabricated," the state-run English-language channel Press TV quoted an official in the Revolutionary Guards as saying. State TV did not give the name of the Revolutionary Guard figure and did not offer more details about how the official knew the footage was "fabricated." The Pentagon on Tuesday released a four-minute, 20-second video that included audio showing small Iranian boats swarming around US warships in the Persian Gulf. In the recording, a man speaking in heavily accented English threatened, "I am coming to you. ... You will explode after ... minutes." The Iranian boats appeared to ignore repeated warnings from the US ships, including horn blasts and radio transmissions, according to the video, which was shot from the bridge of the destroyer USS Hopper. From the Hopper, after spotting the approaching Iranian boats, a US Navy crew member says over the radio: "This is coalition warship. I am engaged in transit passage in accordance with international law. Intend no harm." The audio and video recordings were made separately but were pulled together by the Navy. Often uneven and shaky, the video condenses what Navy officials have said was a 20-minute or so clash. The top Navy commander in the Gulf has said the Iranian fleet of high-speed boats charged at and threatened to blow up the Navy convoy as it passed near but outside Iranian waters on Sunday. The Iranian fleet "maneuvered aggressively" and then fled as the American ship commanders were preparing to open fire, Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff said. No shots were fired. In Teheran, Iran's Foreign Ministry has suggested that the Iranian boats had not recognized the US vessels. Spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini played down the incident. "That is something normal that takes place every now and then for each party," he told the state news agency IRNA. On Wednesday, Iran's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar reiterated that the incident was not unusual. "The identification of vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian Navy units is a natural occurrence," the official IRNA news agency quoted Najjar. "Islamic Republic of Iran Navy units always put questions to passing vessels and warships at the Strait of Hormuz and they need to identify themselves. This is in accordance with the normal procedures." Najjar called Western news reports that the boats threatened to blow up the US warships as "mischief." "(Iranian) Navy units ... asked them to identify themselves. They responded accordingly and continued their path," IRNA quoted Najjar as saying. But US President George W. Bush on Tuesday denounced the incident as a "provocative act." "It is a dangerous situation," Bush said during a White House news conference. "They should not have done it, pure and simple. ... I don't know what their thinking was, but I'm telling you what my thinking was. I think it was a provocative act." Cosgriff also has disputed Iran's claims that the incident was a routine encounter, saying Iran's "provocative" actions were "deadly serious" to the US military.