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The number of standoffs between the American and Iranian navies in the Persian Gulf has decreased due to an observed change in behavior by U.S. forces, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said on Monday, according to Reuters.
U.S. vessels patrolling the Gulf, which is a major regional oil vein, had stopped their periodic violations of international regulations in the area, Rear Admiral Ali Ozmaei said, though U.S. officials maintain they have not changed anything about their operational strategy in the Gulf.
“They pay more attention to international regulations and avoid approaching Iran’s territorial waters,” Ozmaei said, according to Tasnim news agency. U.S. military officials say the incidents had decreased because Iranian vessels had stopped the “harassment” of American vessels.
Last week, a spokesman from the U.S. fifth fleet released a statement saying “the United States Navy has not adjusted its operations and will continue to operate wherever international law allows.”
Then, on Monday, Commander Bill Urban confirmed that American vessels remain “vigilant as we continue to operate.” Even with the decreased incidents, the U.S. navy remained “concerned with the increased number of Iranian UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) operating in international airspace at night without navigation lights,” Urban added.
Fuel from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran – top three OPEC producers – is regularly transported via tankers in the Persian Gulf. Naval forces guard the waters from pirates to allow the energy trade to remain stable.
Iran currently exports over 2 million barrels daily—double its exports from before the nuclear deal allowed sanctions to be lifted in January 2016. Almost two-thirds of the 2017 exports, or 62 percent, went to Asia. China was the largest buyer, followed by India, South Korea, and Japan. The rest of the exports went to Europe.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…