New York Times: Irans Revolutionary Guard accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating a video showing Iranian speedboats confronting United States Navy warships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend, according to a report carried by the semiofficial Fars news agency and state-run television. The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: January 10, 2008
TEHRAN Irans Revolutionary Guard accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating a video showing Iranian speedboats confronting United States Navy warships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend, according to a report carried by the semiofficial Fars news agency and state-run television.
Images released by the U.S. Department of Defense about the Navy vessels were made from file pictures, and the audio was fabricated, an unnamed Revolutionary Guard official said, according to Fars, which has close links to the Revolutionary Guard. It was the first time Iran had commented on the video that the Pentagon released Tuesday.
The audio includes a statement that says, I am coming to you, and adds, You will explode after a few minutes. The voice was recorded from the internationally recognized channel for ship-to-ship communications, Navy officials have said.
The Pentagon immediately dismissed the assertion that the video, which shows Iranian speedboats maneuvering around and among the Navy warships, had been fabricated. Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Irans allegation is absurd, factually incorrect and reflects the lack of seriousness with which they take this serious incident.
Naval and Pentagon officials have said that the video and audio were recorded separately, then combined. On Wednesday, Pentagon officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, said they were still trying to determine if the transmission came from the speedboats or elsewhere.
The unnamed Revolutionary Guard official quoted in the Iranian news media asserted that the video of the speedboats had been released to coincide with a trip by President Bush to the Middle East and was in line with a project of the Western media to create fear. The official said the sounds and images on the video did not go together, adding, It is very clear that they are fake.
The Fars news agency had said that the confrontation had been fabricated to present Iran as a threat to its neighbors before Mr. Bushs trip so he could justify United States forces in the gulf.
The episode was initially described Monday by American officials who said it took place Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz.
They said five armed Iranian speedboats approached three United States Navy warships in international waters, then maneuvered aggressively as a radio threat was issued that the American ships would be blown up. No shots were fired. The video runs slightly more than four minutes and, Pentagon officials said, was shot from the bridge of the guided-missile destroyer Hopper.
The audio includes a heavily accented voice warning in English that the Navy warships would explode. However, the recording carries no ambient noise the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind that would be expected if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small boats that sped around the three-ship American convoy.
Pentagon officials said they could not rule out that the broadcast might have come from shore, or from another ship nearby, although it might have come from one of the five fast boats with a high-quality radio system.
The Revolutionary Guards arrested 15 British sailors in Persian Gulf waters last year and accused them of entering Iranian waters. They were kept in a secret location for two weeks before they were released in April. Their boats were seized by Iranian authorities and have not been returned. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that Iran was willing to return the boats but that British authorities had not followed up, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.