Commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, had some sharp words for Iranian leadership and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) regarding its provocative posturing against U.S. Naval vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
General Votel told reporters that Iran’s behavior has grown increasingly hostile towards U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf since the signing of the nuclear deal and is the only country operating at this level of aggression. He said in response to the increased aggressive interactions with Iranian vessels and the U.S. Navy,
“No one else does what they do. They don’t go out and they don’t drive fast boats towards military vessels out there in the same way that they do. Nobody else does that. [Tehran is] trying to exert their influence and authority in the region. We haven’t seen a significant change in their behavior, just as we’ve kind of been talking about here, with the agreement, to me …that remains a concern.”
For 2016 year-to-date, the U.S. Navy’s data lists 19 dangerous interactions with IRGC naval vessels that are characterized as “unsafe and unprofessional,” whereas in the first six months of 2015, the incidents numbered at 10. In July alone there have been 11 dangerous confrontations from the IRGC navy with one incident requiring warning shots being fired from a U.S. Navy vessel.
Incidentally, Iran announced Sunday via its state-ran TV that it had deployed the Russian made S-300 missile system near its Fordow nuclear facility where uranium was once enriched. The nuclear agreement forbids Iran to enrich uranium at the Fordow facility.