Although the US and Iran share belligerent diplomatic ties, the US Navy performed their duties on Thursday, as they rescued five suspected Iranian drug peddlers from a burning ship. One person remained missing, as there were six sailors in the ship. The Navy released an aerial surveillance video, showing their rescue operation off the coast of Oman. According to the US Navy, the Iranians set their dhow on fire after encountering the US Navy patrol.
The naval vessel immediately reached the spot, and rescued the Iranians. The Navy personnel also found a huge amount of drugs onboard the dhow. A Navy officer said that the dhow was sailing in the Gulf of Oman. As the Iranians encountered the Navy patrol, they poured a liquid, most probably an accelerant, over the cargo. Almost immediately, an explosion rocked the dhow, and the Iranians jumped into the water.
Later, the 'USS Sirocco' patrol craft, too, reached the spot, and recovered more than 3,850 pounds of hashish, 1,100 pounds of methamphetamine and 66 pounds of heroin, worth about $14.7 million. Senior spokesperson of the US Navy's Middle East-based 5th Fleet Commander Timothy Hawkins said that the recovered drugs represented only half of all the drugs onboard the dhow, as the rest sank with the vessel.
The US Navy mentioned in a statement that they handed the five rescued Iranians over to the concerned authorities in Oman, after giving them medical treatment. As expected, Tehran is yet to acknowledge the incident.
It may be noted that the US Navy carry out anti-drug patrols in the region on a regular basis, as peddlers use dhows to transport drugs mainly out of Afghanistan. The presence of the US Navy has also reduced activities of the Somali pirates in the region.
Meanwhile, the US Navy rescued the five Iranians just two days after a senior US official accused Tehran of 'slow-walking' the nuclear talks in Vienna. On Tuesday, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the world powers should not allow the West Asian nation to slow-walk nuclear diplomacy in Vienna, as the international community wanted to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. She further said that the deal could only prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
In the Austrian capital, Thomas-Greenfield stressed that the Joe Biden administration in Washington was ready to lift sanctions inconsistent with its commitments under the deal, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA). At the same time, she made it clear that it would be possible, only if Iran decided to respect the global interests.