Iran Deal: As Obama Speaks, DOD Confirms Iran Targeted U.S. Helicopter

Warship helicopter (Luis Robayo / AFP / Getty)
Luis Robayo / AFP / Getty

A Defense Department official confirmed Wednesday reports that an Iranian warship aimed a machine gun at a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden, and a U.S. helicopter that had just landed on its deck.

The confirmation came as President Barack Obama prepared to deliver a speech on the Iran deal.

The incident occurred two weeks ago, and is described as lasting about a minute. The DoD official would not specify the exact nationality of the ship the American helicopter landed on.

As described by CNN, the Iranian vessel was only a few hundred yards away from the coalition warship when that ship’s crew, and the crew of the U.S. military helicopter, noticed a weapon tentatively identified as an “on-deck machine gun” was trained on them. It was then observed that a cameraman was standing behind the Iranian gunner. The U.S. helicopter later departed on schedule.

“Were they just trying to get cool pictures pointing at us? Were they making a propaganda film? Was some guy taking pictures to send to his girlfriend? We don’t know,” said the defense official quoted by CNN.

The official also said there have been two recent encounters in which U.S. Navy ships sounded their horns to warn off Iranian ships that had approached too close.