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Tense encounter between the United States and Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz

The United States Navy had a tense encounter with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, US officials said on Tuesday.

Three Guards ships held a I find it “unsafe and unprofessional” as the USS Sirocco and USNS Choctaw County sailed through the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf on Monday, the Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in the Middle East, explained.

One of the three fast boats of the Guard sailed directly towards the Sirocco before changing course, the Navy added, noting that its ship fired a warning flare during the incident.

One of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats that approached a US ship. Photo: AP

A short video distributed by the Navy showed what happened.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident in the strait, for which one-fifth of the world’s oil trade passes.

Regional tension and stalled nuclear negotiations

The episode comes at a time of heightened tension in the region as the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers remains in doubt due to stalled negotiations to revive it.

Separately, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said that, given the impasse, Iran plans to enrich uranium in a second set of advanced centrifuges at its underground Fordo facility.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency verified on Tuesday that the country was preparing to enrich uranium through a nnew cascade of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at the plant near the Shiite holy city of Qom, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Tehran. They enrich the product to up to 20% purity.

According to the IAEA, the Islamic Republic did not reveal the level it will obtain in the second cascade, whose existence it did not publicly acknowledge either.

The 2015 agreement prohibited enrichment at Fordo. Protected by mountains, the plant is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns and other fortifications.

It is the size of a football field and is large enough to hold up to 3,000 centrifugesbut small enough that US officials suspected it was for military purposes when they publicly exposed its existence in 2009.

In this tense environment, it is suspected Israel has carried out a series of attacks within and out of Iran against the country, including the assassination of the architect of its former nuclear program with a remote-controlled machine gun.

Source: AP

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