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Iran jamming ships’ GPS systems to lure them into its waters, report says

A group of Iranian Navy ships. (Tasnim News Agency/Released)
August 08, 2019

Iran is reportedly jamming ships’ global positioning systems (GPS) in order to get them to wander into Iranian-controlled waters.

The United States believes that ships sailing in the waters of the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf that have been experiencing GPS interference have been targeted by Iran, Business Insider reported on Wednesday.

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration released a warning Wednesday saying that ships have experienced a number of issues when operating in the region, including “spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be U.S. or coalition warships.”

“Due to the heightened regional tensions, the potential for miscalculation or misidentification could lead to aggressive actions against vessels belonging to US, allied and coalition partners operating in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) wrote in an emailed statement to Business Insider.

CENTCOM added that ships have reported experiencing “GPS interference, bridge-to-bridge communications spoofing, and/or other communications jamming with little to no warning.”

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Iranian Navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels have reportedly also disguised themselves to look like commercial shipping vessels to merchant ships in the waters, a U.S. official told CNN.

The United States has a number of allies and military assets in the region, including ships and aircraft, according to Business Insider.

“The U.S. remains committed to working with allies and regional partners to safeguard the freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce, and the protection of U.S. vessels and personnel in this region,” CENTCOM said, as Business Insider reported.

These developments come amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, as the Iranians have threatened to block passage in the Strait of Hormuz and reduce compliance with a nuclear deal from 2015, Reuters reported.

Iran stated on Monday to European leaders that in about one month’s time it would block all energy exports in the Strait of Hormuz — where one-fifth of the world’s oil passes — if European powers did not protect them against crippling sanctions by the United States.

“With the continuation of the inaction of the Europeans in carrying out their commitments (to the nuclear deal) … Iran will take a third step (in reducing commitments) in approximately one month,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The 2015 deal was designed to allow Iran to sell its oil in exchange for curbing its uranium enrichment program, which the nation has threatened to ramp up.

Iran said it has increased its stockpile of heavy water, which is used at its nuclear reactor in Arak, above the agreements limit of 130 tonnes. Additionally, they said they’ve increased its reserve of enriched uranium above 300 kilograms, which is also above the cap established in the 2015 deal.

“What is certain is that by putting aside or suspending our commitments we will increase the speed of our nuclear activities,” Kamalvandi warned.