Iran carries out annual military exercises
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Iran has been slammed by the United States after an Iranian helicopter performed a risky stunt near to an American warship in the Gulf of Oman. The helicopter reportedly passed within 25 yards of the USS Essex circled it three times in an incident that ended without an impact on Navy operations, the Pentagon said on Monday. A video posted on Twitter shows the helicopter flying along the top of the sea close to the US vessel.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said: “Without getting into specifics, the crew of the Essex took the appropriate force protection measures they felt that they needed to, and they acted in accordance with international law.”
He added the incident had no impact on the ship’s operations.
“When you have another armed force — in this case, the Iranian navy — that flies like this, you definitely run the risk of some sort of escalation and a miscalculation on either side here, and that’s not helpful,” Mr Kirby added.
“This one ended peacefully, but it doesn’t mean it was safe and professional. It absolutely wasn’t.”
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The shocking footage was captured from inside the cockpit of an Iranian military helicopter.
US warplanes can be seen up close on the deck of the USS Essex as the chopper completes the risky fly past.
The helicopter appears to close on the US warship at speed and approaches from the stern
Flying incredibly low the Iranian aircraft appears to hover very close the waves as the pilot maneuvers past the huge aircraft carrier.
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“It’s dangerous because it could lead to miscalculations,” Mr Kirby added.
It comes as President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met ahead of talks between Tehran and Washington on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Officials from Iran and the six nations that struck the pact – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – will meet in Vienna for the tallks.
The negotiations are set to explore whether Tehran and Washington can agree to resume compliance with the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program to gain relief from sanctions.
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In 2018 then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the pact among the major powers known as the P5+1 and Iran and restored harsh U.S. sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin violating its nuclear restrictions about a year later.
“The two presidents had the chance to talk about how we can align our perspectives heading into that (Nov. 29) meeting so that the P5+1 is united in dealing with Iran and trying to pave the way for a return to the (deal),” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a virtual think tank appearance.
The US-Iranian talks are indirect, with officials from the other nations shuttling between them, because Iran refuses direct contact with U.S. officials.
While China favors reviving the agreement, it has tended to place the onus on the United States, rather than Iran, blaming Washington for having abandoned the deal and giving Tehran an economic lifeline by buying Iranian oil despite US sanctions.
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