A U.S. navy admiral said Sunday that the U.S. has reached an “uneasy deterrence” with Iran after enduring regional attacks and seizures at sea for months.
Vice Adm. Sam Paparo told the annual Manama Dialogue held by the International Institute for Strategic Studies that he has a “healthy respect” for Iran’s navy and its Revolutionary Guard, The Associated Press reported
“We have achieved an uneasy deterrence,” the vice admiral, who leads the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said. “That uneasy deterrence is exacerbated by world events and by events along the way. But I have found Iranian activity at sea to be cautious and circumspect and respectful, to not risk unnecessary miscalculation or escalation at sea.”
Iranian forces have not directly attacked a tanker in recent months, but unidentified assailants struck an oil tanker with a mine off Saudi Arabia and went after a cargo ship near Yemen in recent days, according to the AP.
Authorities have suspected Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels of conducting the assaults, but they have not commented on the incidents.
Paparo, unlike his predecessor Vice Adm. James Malloy, has not seen any major disasters in his first few months in the position. The vice admiral also strays from previous leaders by not distinguishing between Iran’s navy and Revolutionary Guard, calling it an “old idea” that the latter was loyal to Iran’s shah, who was overthrown in 1979.
“Forty-one years into the revolution, I think we can dispense with that notion,” he said, according to the AP. “I sincerely doubt there’s a difference among them.”
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations Alireza Miryousefi responded to Paparo’s comments saying Iran’s naval forces “have always conducted themselves in the utmost professional manner while patrolling in our territorial waters and the greater Persian Gulf.”
“Any suggestion to the otherwise is categorically false,” Miryousefi told the AP. “The question that should be raised is, what is the U.S. Navy doing 7,000 miles from its territorial waters?”
The U.S. has monitored the waters of the Mideast to make sure energy supplies and trade make it through certain areas like the Strait of Hormuz which Iranian authorities have threatened to close.
Paparo’s comments come as Iran and the U.S. continue to have tense relations after President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE withdrew from the nuclear deal and instituted sanctions on the country. Iran has, in turn, violated its end of the nuclear agreement.