Renewed tensions within the Persian Gulf come as American and Iranians vessels have repeatedly come in close contact in the regional waters amid ongoing talks in Vienna to bring both parties back into compliance under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
A senior Iranian commander revealed on Friday that members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian Armed Forces are keeping close tabs on vessels transiting the Persian Gulf in a bid to ensure regional security.
Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, who serves as a commander for the IRGC Navy, told PressTV that “every ship entering the Persian Gulf” is being closely monitored in line with “the bandwidth control code in the Strait of Hormuz,” adding that all vessels are being required to identify themselves to officials.
“The Islamic Republic does not only have military presence in this region, but also in various economic, political and even cultural sectors in national and international arenas,” the official said, adding that Iran plays a pivotal role within the Persian Gulf, as well as portions of the coastline along the Gulf of Oman.
Tangsiri further described the Persian Gulf to the outlet as being the “engine of economic development and growth of Asian and European countries and the important and strategic axis of sea, air and commercial transportation among different countries.”
Per the Iranian commander, the gulf’s strategic position is the root cause for the continued presence of vessels from Western countries, particularly those belonging to the US.
Earlier this week, tensions were kicked up a notch when Iranian vessels made a close approach on several US Navy and Coast Guard ships, prompting American forces to fire multiple warning shots after directives were reportedly ignored. At the time, the US Navy indicated that IRGC Navy ships had come within 68 yards to US vessels.
The incident followed a similar encounter between the US and Iran that unfolded in early April, when Washington accused Tehran of harassing American vessels for a period of some three hours.
In response to the recent altercation, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, speaker of the Iranian parliament, blasted the US as having become the “main source of insecurity” in the Persian Gulf as it seeks to “gain influence” in the area.
The latest tensions have broken out as signers to the Iran nuclear deal have been attempting to quell tensions between the US and Iran, and bring the two nations back in line with the 2015 deal. Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department, recently remarked that “some progress” has been made amid the ongoing talks, but that “big challenges remain.”