January 4, 2012
January 4, 2012
Iran’s defense minister on Wednesday stressed his country’s warning against the U.S. navy presence in the Gulf, reinforcing a threat dismissed by Washingtonas a sign of “weakness” by Tehran.
“Iran will do anything to preserve the security of the Strait of Hormuz” at the entrance to the Gulf, Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, according to the website of Iran’s state television.
“The presence of forces from beyond the (Gulf) region has no result but turbulence. We have said the presence of forces from beyond the region in the Persian Gulf is not needed and is harmful,” he was quoted as saying, according to AFP.
The comments echoed a warning issued Tuesday by Iran’s military that it would unleash its “full force” if a U.S. aircraft carrier is redeployed to the Gulf.
“We don’t have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once,” Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi, Iran’s armed forces chief, said as he told Washington to keep its aircraft carrier out of the Gulf.
The White House on Tuesday brushed off the warning, saying it “reflects the fact that Iran is in a position of weakness” as it struggles under international sanctions.
The Pentagon said it would keep sending carrier strike groups through the Gulf regardless.
The Pentagon appeared to walk a delicate line, assuring more “regularly scheduled movements” of aircraft carrier strike groups into the Gulf, but stopping short of announcing any special activity in response to the Iranian threat.
“The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,” the Pentagon said, according to Reuters.
The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis leads a U.S. Navy task force in the region. It is now outside the Gulf in the Arabian Sea, providing air support for the war in Afghanistan, said Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet.
The carrier left the Gulf on Dec. 27 on a planned routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz, she said.
Forty percent of the world’s traded oil flows through that narrow straight – which Iran threatened last month to shut if sanctions halted its oil exports.
Asked at the Pentagon whether there was any U.S. military plan to bolster its presence in the Gulf or test the Iranian threat, spokesman George Little said: “No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz.”
AL ARABIYA WITH AFP