Iran's most senior military commander says the "enemies" endanger the safety of navigation by launching and sending small unmanned reconnaissance maritime drones.
Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic, made the remarks on Monday referring to a series of encounters between Iranian and United States naval forces last week.
"Enemies are trying to compensate for the reduction of force in the Middle East by creating new units," he said, adding that “They endanger maritime security by dispatching small unmanned surveillance drones, but the armed forces' response to vessels wandering in open waters will be decisive."
He also criticized Israel joining the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), calling it a ‘threat’ for Iran. “We do not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime," Bagheri said, noting that "We will not make any compromises regarding the rights of the Iranian nation and the security of our seas and lands,"
Iran seized and released two American sea drones in the Red Sea on Friday. Later in the day, US officials reported that Iran returned the two captured maritime drones after being confronted by US destroyers but the unmanned vessels were missing their cameras.
On Tuesday, the US Naval Forces Central Command said that the US Navy prevented a support ship from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Navy -- named Shahid Baziar -- from capturing an unmanned vessel operated by the US 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s tough military tone is coupled with its hardening of diplomatic posture in the ongoing talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, the JCPOA.