An international incident was avoided yesterday in the Persian Gulf, when Iran picked up and subsequently released two U.S. Navy patrol boats. Analysts and experts credited warming relations between the two nations following an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program that is set to be implemented next week.
“This time, the top leadership of the Islamic republic of Iran is not looking for any tension with America,” Nader Karimi Joni, a journalist aligned with Iran’s reformists, told the New York Times. “During [the presidency of Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, our whole system sought tension. Now, things have changed. Both sides, America and Iran, are in direct contact and they seek détente. Currently there is no need for anti-Americanism.”
Two U.S. Navy patrol boats traveled into Iranian waters within a mile of an Iranian Naval base at Farsi Island, Iranian news agency Fars reported. The incursion wasn’t intended to incite though and the sailors apologized and were soon after released into international waters.
Some however used the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration. “The White House tonight is a hot bed of cold feet,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), told CNN. Cotton said military force should be considered as a reaction against a regime that is trying to “leverage and inflict massive humiliation” on the U.S.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), informally known as the Iranian nuclear deal, is set to be implemented sometime next week. Conservatives and hardliners, in the U.S. and Iran, oppose the deal and are trying to derail it before “Implementation day”.
“Many American and Middle Eastern officials say they believe that recent actions by the Iranian Navy against American forces in the gulf may be intended to embarrass Mr. Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani,” the New York times reported.
Contrary to Cotton’s adjudication however, it appears to be warming relations between Iran and the U.S. that helped prevent tensions from boiling over. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spent a lot of time deliberating over Iran’s nuclear program and reports say the two have forged a positive relationship.
“John Kerry and Zarif were on the phone during the past hours, and this helped the problem to be resolved quickly due to their direct contact,” Hamidreza Taraghi, a conservative analyst close to Iran’s senior leadership, told the New York Times.