US Navy official: We have 'uneasy deterrence' with Iran

Despite recent tensions, top US Navy official in the Middle East says the US has a "healthy respect" for Iranian presence in Gulf.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian mockup aircraft carrier over Strait of Hormuz
Iranian mockup aircraft carrier over Strait of Hormuz

The top US Navy official in the Middle East, Vice Adm. Sam Paparo, said on Sunday that America has reached an “uneasy deterrence” with Iran after months of regional attacks and seizures at sea, The Associated Press reports.

Paparo, who oversees the Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, struck an academic tone in comments to the annual Manama Dialogue hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He described having a “healthy respect” for both Iran’s regular navy and the naval forces of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

“We have achieved an uneasy deterrence. 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,” he said, according to AP.

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf. The Revolutionary Guard typically patrols the shallower waters of the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz.

The Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.

Asked about Paparo’s comments, Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, said all of 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 AP. “The question that should be raised is, what is the U.S. Navy doing 7,000 miles from its territorial waters?”