Washington: Fearing that a misunderstanding
could lead to a large-scale conflict, the US is planning to
set up a direct military hotline with Iran after a series of
"near-miss" encounters between American and Iranian forces in
the Persian Gulf in recent months.
Quoting unnamed US officials, The Wall Street Journal
reported that the US is especially worried about a fleet of
speedboats controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps, Tehran`s elite military force.
"The high-performance boats, which can be equipped with
missiles, regularly challenge US and allied warships that
transit through the Persian Gulf," the report said.
In recent months, a British destroyer fired warning shots
at one of these boats as it appeared to be preparing to ram
the larger ship, it said, adding Iranian aircraft have also
challenged US ships in recent months.
"Iran seems to be aggressively defensive," it quoted a US
official, who studies Tehran`s military tactics, as saying.
Fearing that a misunderstanding could lead to wider
conflict, US officials are considering a formal proposal for
emergency communications, it said.
"At least initially, US defence officials are most
enthusiastic about expanding navy-to-navy contacts with Iran
to prevent miscalculations. But they remain wary of any direct
engagement with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, due to
its deep ties to Middle East militant groups," the paper said.
It isn`t clear if the hotline proposal has been
informally raised with Iran, possibly through Iraq, it said.
The White House also declined to comment on the issue. A
senior defence official said discussion of the hot line was
"very premature" and that no formal proposals have been
presented to Secretary of Defence or President.