Iran says US ‘got the message’ on tense exchanges in Gulf

TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) – Iran said on Monday it was glad the United States (US) “got the message” and modified its behaviour in the Persian Gulf, after the top US Navy official in the region said his forces had reached a state of deterrence with Iran after months of regional attacks and seizures at sea.

“We are happy that the other party has got the message and made its behavior more respectful,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. He said the US military is the “main source of tension” in the region and that Iranian forces have always acted professionally.

“Unfortunately, the US has often had an unprofessional approach toward Iran’s navy,” he said. He was responding to Vice Admiral Sam Paparo’s remarks, delivered at a conference in Bahrain on Sunday.

Paparo, who oversees the Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said the two sides had reached a state of “uneasy deterrence” and that he had a “healthy respect” for Iran’s regular navy and the naval forces of its Revolutionary Guard.

Tensions remain high over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and imposed heavy sanctions on Iran.

The killing of Iran’s top general in a US drone strike in Iraq in January pushed the two countries to the brink of war, with Iran responding with a missile attack on US forces.

A US MH-60 Seahawk helicopter flies over Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz. PHOTO: AP