'Now we're switching it up': US carrier enters Persian Gulf for 1st time since Iran deal withdrawal
As the two nations exchange open threats, the Pentagon has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf, while Iran stages "massive" naval drills in the region, with its fleet surveilling US ships.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS 'John C. Stennis,' belonging to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, arrived in the Persian Gulf on Friday. It became the first American warship of its type to cross the Strait of Hormuz and sail in the waters off the Iranian coast since US President Donald Trump pulled the nation out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program in May.
"We are trying to be more operationally unpredictable," said the fleet's spokesperson, Lieutenant Chloe Morgan, according to AP. Noting the months-long absence of a US carrier group in the region, she hinted that this might change.
Now we're switching it up because our adversaries are watching closely.
Reporters on board of the carrier said the ship was closely trailed by around 30 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels. AP said that the personnel of the boats "could be clearly seen" filming the US ship, and a drone was launched to surveil USS 'John C. Stennis.'
Israeli media reported that at some point an Iranian ship fired missiles "at a distance" from the American strike group. It is unclear how far from the US ships the alleged shots happened. Tehran's Navy didn't respond to these reports, and the Pentagon didn't comment on whether the Iranian ships had engaged in threatening activities that day.
Washington's maneuvers are taking place simultaneously with Tehran's 'Great Prophet 12' naval drill. Described as 'massive' by Iranian media, the eight-day military exercise involves various ground and naval units operating in the Gulf and in southern Iran. The main phase of the wargame kicked off near Qeshm Island on Saturday, with troops practicing breaching an enemies' coastal defense.
Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, who leads the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces, called the drill "strategically defensive" in nature and said that Iran does not intend to intimidate other nations.
We pose no threat to any country but if the enemies seek to implement their malicious intentions and attack us, we will be absolutely aggressive and attack the enemies with all might.
Relations between Tehran and Washington rapidly deteriorated throughout the year after the Trump administration re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic's energy and banking sector. US officials stated that the restrictions are aimed at curbing the nation's oil trade.
In response, politicians in Tehran hinted that the country might resort to blocking all shipments through the strategically important Strait of Hormuz if Washington steps up its goal of eliminating Iranian oil exports.Also on rt.com Iran threatens to block Strait of Hormuz in response to US attempts to stop its oil exports
Last year, US Navy commanders accused Iranian ships of "aggressive" behavior in the Strait of Hormuz, saying that their maneuvers risked disrupting merchant traffic. Tehran rejected these allegations and claimed that the Americans would be "responsible for any unrest in the Persian Gulf."
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