By ROBERT BURNSAP National Security Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Iran's naval forces, periodically accused by the U.S. of provocative moves in the Persian Gulf, have shown restraint in recent months, the U.S. Navy's top admiral said Wednesday.
"Things have been, relatively speaking, quiet," Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told a Pentagon news conference.
The Gulf is a potential flashpoint for the tensions between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program; Iran earlier this year warned the U.S. to keep its aircraft carriers out of the Gulf, although carriers have moved through the narrow Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf frequently since then without incident.
Greenert said the Iranian navy has been "professional and courteous" in its dealings with U.S. naval vessels in the Gulf and has abided by the international norms that govern naval activity in international waters.
Previous provocations generally came from the naval arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is separate from the regular Iranian navy. Greenert said the Revolutionary Guard's navy in the past has tended to operate too close to U.S. ships, sometimes with armed speedboats.
"Frankly, that hasn't happened recently," he said.
The U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, with its headquarters on the Gulf island of Bahrain, has a constant presence in the region. The U.S. currently has two aircraft carriers in the area -- the USS Abraham Lincoln, which sailed out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz this week, and the USS Enterprise.
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