The usual harassment of U.S. warships by small Iranian gunboats in the Persian Gulf has stopped this year, according to the Navy, but the suspension of such activity could be in jeopardy as Iran threatens to block the Strait of Hormuz.
According to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain, these so-called “unsafe and unprofessional” interactions typically took place once a month during President Trump’s first year in office. But there have been no recorded instances of harassment this year.
In then-President Barack Obama’s last year in office, Iranian warships harassed the U.S. Navy about three times a month. These interactions fell by roughly 60 percent in Trump’s first year in office.
The last unsafe interaction occurred nearly a year ago on Aug. 14, 2017, when an Iranian drone flew too close to an F/A-18 Hornet attempting to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, according to the Navy.
This year: 0
Source: U.S. Navy
Iranian officials, though, now are threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, where 30 percent of the world’s oil transits each day in and out of the Persian Gulf — something that could jeopardize the suspension of harassment. This came after a senior U.S. State Department official warned about more sanctions being slapped on the Islamic Republic in November if Iran doesn’t change its behavior.
“Our goal is to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue from crude oil sales. Now, we are working to minimize disruptions to the global market, but we are confident that there is sufficient global spare oil production capacity,” Brian Hook, director of policy planning at the State Department, said Monday.
Iran’s president responded to Hook a day later, calling such threats overblown.
“In my opinion, what a U.S. official put forward when saying that the United State of America intends to reduce to zero Iranian oil exports, are actually remarks that I think are exaggerated and on a practical level will never be able to be implemented,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said alongside his Swiss counterpart in Bern Tuesday.
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