- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2016

The White House said Friday that the Iranian navy’s behavior was “not acceptable” in causing two close encounters with U.S. war ships in the Persian Gulf.

“This is already a volatile region of the world, and in a compressed space like the Strait of Hormuz, it only increases the risk associated with possible miscalculations,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “That’s certainly something that we want to avoid.”

He didn’t say what, if anything, the administration would do about it.

An Iranian defense official said Tehran’s military intends to “warn” and “confront” any foreign ships entering its territorial waters, after four Iranian fast-attack craft buzzed the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday. A day later, the USS Squall fired three warning shots to deter boats under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the heavily trafficked waterway.

Administration critics say the reckless behavior is more proof that Iran doesn’t intend to change its destabilizing behavior after the U.S. and other countries lifted sanctions in a deal to roll back Tehran’s nuclear program.

Because the U.S. doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran, Mr. Earnest said, “our ability to discern exactly what their intent was is limited.”

SEE ALSO: Iran confrontations reveal Obama nuclear deal having little effect on Tehran’s behavior

“It’s unclear exactly what their intentions were or what their aims might have been,” he said. “But the behavior that we have seen is not acceptable.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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