Iranian military activity in the skies and waters of the Arabian Sea has actually increased since the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers was signed in mid-July, according to the U.S. military.
Less than two weeks after the nuclear agreement was reached, crew members of an Iranian Navy frigate in the Gulf of Aden pointed heavy machine gun at an American military helicopter that had just landed on a ship, the New York Times (NYT) reports.
The incident was “an alarming provocation at a time when critics are trying to kill a nuclear deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief,” explains the article. “The American helicopter, following standing orders to defuse tensions instead of elevating them, took off from the ship, but the Iranian crew continued to track it with the gun for a few moments before turning away.”
U.S. military officers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is charged with patrolling the Persian Gulf, reportedly said that after the nuclear deal was signed in mid-July, “Iranian activity in the gulf picked up as Iran deployed more warships off the Iranian coast and increased its fighter jet flights.”
“I don’t think things are any different now than they were before” the nuclear agreement was signed, Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, the commander of the strike group aboard the Theodore Roosevelt, told the Times. “We have interactions every day with Iran. Fifty percent of the Persian Gulf coastline is Iran, so when they see us here, they come and check us out.”
“For the most part, they’re professional,” he added.
In the skies and waters of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, the U.S. and Iran continue to engage in a decades-old, high-stakes version of spy versus spy.
Iran and the United States continued to watch each other constantly even after the nuclear deal was signed a little over a month ago.
Critics of the deal feared that the U.S. might let up on decades of spying on its adversary Iran in response to the agreement.
“American naval ships openly roam the waters along Iran’s 1,100-mile-long southern coastline, their radar trained on the Iranian shore and on Iranian ships leaving their harbors,” notes the Times. “Iranian fighter jets patrol the skies, keeping an eye on American combat planes that take off from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf every time an Iranian jet comes close to their ship.”