US closely monitoring Iranian forces in Persian Gulf: Navy chief
The United States Navy is closely monitoring Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf and expects a “period of uncertainty” and increased level of alertness, the US Navy chief has said.
“It is a period of uncertainty that we are entering into right, how the whole world will respond to this latest development,” Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told a small group of reporters on Monday, referring US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Iran, Reuters reported.
“(We have to) remain alert, I mean even a little bit more alert than usual to just be open to any kind of response or new development or something like that,” Richardson added.
He made the remarks after visiting the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia where American and French troops are conducting joint military maneuvers.
He acknowledged that Iranian forces have not tried to provoke the US Navy since Trump’s announcement.
Last week, Trump declared that his country is pulling out of the Iran deal, saying Washington will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Under the deal, reached under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
On Thursday, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on several Iranian individuals and entities.
The Treasury said in a statement on its website that it had sanctioned six people allegedly tied to the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and three Iranian entities.
On January 12, 2016, IRGC Naval forces arrested US sailors after their patrol boats entered Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
The following day, the IRGC announced that ten US Marines were released after Americans apologized for the incident.
The two US Navy crafts carrying the 10 Marines had drifted three miles into the waters surrounding the Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. US officials later blamed a navigational problem for sailors’ drifting astray.
On January 13, Iran released a video showing the moment the sailors were arrested.
The release of the footage irked American officials, including then-US Secretary of State John Kerry who said he was very “angry and frustrated” at the release of the video.