Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari labelled the US decision to send its USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf as "deceiving" regional states, Fars News reported on 23 December.
"The presence of this fleet of warships is aimed at deceiving the regional states and pretending that they establish security for these countries […] We hope that these countries will not be fooled by the enemy", he said.
In turn, his colleague, IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri denied earlier reports about Iranian ships firing rockets near the USS John C. Stennis, as it ventured into the Persian Gulf. He slammed this information as "propaganda" and accused the US of spreading lies. Tangsiri added that Iranian ships merely monitored the movements of the US carrier and its strike group.
The USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group arrived in the Persian Gulf on 21 December after a prolonged period of the absence by US forces in the region, which lasted since around 2001. Its arrival was preceded by warnings sounded by Iran, which threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz — the only maritime exit from the Persian Gulf and a corridor for a 1/3 of the world's oil exports.
According to an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal, the USS Stennis is expected to stay in the region for around two months to "provide a deterrence" against any potentially hostile Iranian activity in the waters.