LONDON (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday that it was ready to respond to any hostile US action against it, but added that it did not consider the arrival of a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf last week as a significant threat.
The USS John C. Stennis entered the Gulf on Friday, ending a long absence of US aircraft carriers in the region as tensions are on the rise between Tehran and Washington.
“The presence of this warship is insignificant to us,” Iran’s Navy commander Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
“We will not allow this warship to come near our territorial waters in the Persian Gulf,” he added.
Sayyari said the US navy was allowed to sail in international waters near Iran, just as the Iranian navy could sail in the Atlantic Ocean near US waters.
He said, however, that Iran was on alert for possible threats. “They do not have the courage or ability to take any measures against us. We have enough capabilities to stand against their actions and we have fully rehearsed for that.”
A US-Iranian war of words has escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington in May from a world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran, and reimposed sanctions on its banking and energy sectors.
Iran has warned that if it cannot sell its oil due to US pressures, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.
A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait from Middle East crude producers to major markets.
In recent years, there have been periodic confrontations between Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and US military in the Gulf, but the number of incidents has dropped in recent months.