Report: US Considering Military Hotline with Iran

Posted September 19th, 2011 at 3:54 am (UTC-5)
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A U.S. newspaper says the United States is considering trying to establish a direct military hotline with Iran in order to defuse potential confrontations between the two countries' military forces.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that one proposal would create a link between the Iranian Navy and the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is based in the Gulf island nation of Bahrain.

The newspaper said U.S. officials are particularly concerned about a fleet of speedboats likely controlled by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, which they say has been involved in several near-altercations.

The report says it is unclear if the hotline idea has been raised with Iran, and said the White House, Pentagon and an Iranian diplomat all declined to comment on the matter.

The United States has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980.

The Journal quoted Pentagon press secretary George Little saying the U.S. remains concerned about “Iran's destabilizing activities and ambitions.”

In 2008, the U.S. accused a fleet of Iranian naval boats of threatening American warships in the Strait of Hormuz. Former U.S. president George W. Bush said Iran would face “serious consequences” if it attacked U.S. ships.

Iran dismissed the encounter as routine and demanded the United States apologize for its portrayal of the incident. Both sides released videos that they said supported their version of the events.

The U.S. Navy said last year that an Iranian navy patrol plane flew within 900 meters of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Oman. Iranian media quoted an Iranian navy commander saying Iran has a right to carry out reconnaissance flights over international waters, but did not directly address the incident.

The U.S. has also accused Iran of sponsoring attacks on U.S. forces in neighboring Iraq, as well as terrorism.

Washington has imposed sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear enrichment activities and refusal to cooperate with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.