By Aakanksha Nigam
Iran says it briefly seized US drones in the Red Sea amid tensions. The incident marks the second time US drones have been seized in a week amid stalled negotiations over Iran’s nuclear deal.
According to Iranian state media, American unmanned vessels are endangering marine safety. Iran’s military released two American surface drones hours after detaining them in the Red Sea.
State TV reported, “The [Iranian navy] frigate Jamaran seized the two vessels on Thursday to prevent any possible accident after issuing warnings to the US fleet. After international shipping lanes were secured, the two vessels were released to a safe area. ”
The state TV further reported, “Several unmanned spying vessels abandoned in the international maritime routes” and “after warning an American destroyer twice, seized the two drone vessels to prevent possible accidents”.
Meanwhile, a US defense official said that the incident looks like an escalation of Iranian hostile actions against the United States. “The fact that this happened two days after their unsuccessful attempt in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf looks to be an escalation,” the official added. He further stated that the incident began when the Iranian Navy ship was observed taking two US drones out of the water “in an attempt to steal them.”
According to US Central Command, the sail drone explorers, unmanned maritime craft, were operating four miles from the closest shipping lane on international seas in the southern Red Sea. The unarmed drones were taking unclassified pictures of the surroundings and have been flying around the area for more than 200 days without causing any trouble.
The latest maritime incident involving the United States Navy’s new drone fleet in the Middle East appears to have involved more than a dozen Iranian navy sailors tossing two drones into the water from the deck of their ship as discussions over Tehran’s nuclear deal with the world powers loom.
The latest response from Tehran to an EU suggestion to revive the deal, according to the US State Department, was “not constructive.”