Iran meant navy exercise as 'a message' to US over sanctions, top general says

Iran meant navy exercise as 'a message' to US over sanctions, top general says
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The top U.S. general in the Middle East on Wednesday said the military remains “extraordinarily vigilant” about Iranian movements in the Persian Gulf following last week’s Iranian naval exercise in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel said he believes that the exercise was meant to be a message to Washington over reimposing economic sanctions on Iran.

“It’s pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach this period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities,” Votel told reporters at the Pentagon.

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The Trump administration on Tuesday reimposed sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of a nuclear agreement with the country — a follow-through on the order President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE gave when he withdrew from the nuclear pact in May.

The sanctions go back into place after Trump in July threatened Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

When talking about Iran’s right to the Strait of Hormuz, Rouhani had commented that Americans “should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Trump at the time responded to Rouhani with an all-caps tweet.

“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump wrote. “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Since then, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps held a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz.

Votel said that Iran has the capability to plant mines and explosive boats and employ costal defense missiles in and around the international waterway. But he says the U.S. military is “paying attention,” and will “remain ready to protect ourselves.”

“We always think of our defense. We’re making good use of our intelligence, surveillance resources. Our crews that are on board our ships are well rehearsed, well prepared by the U.S. Navy when they come into our area,” Votel said. “We’re extraordinarily vigilant and watching for changes in the environment and making sure that we are identifying that first and not putting ourselves in a position where we’re vulnerable.”