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U.S. Defense Official: Navy To Continue Operations in Persian Gulf

January 03, 2012

A U.S. defense official has been quoted as saying that the United States will continue to deploy its warships in the Persian Gulf, after Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the region.

Reuters quoted U.S. Commander Bill Speaks as saying on January 3 that “these are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations."

He added that the U.S. Navy “operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce."

The remarks come after the head of Iran's armed forces says a U.S. aircraft carrier deployed in the Middle East should not return to the Gulf.

Ataollah Salehi was quoted by several Iranian news agencies today as saying Iran would take action if the aircraft carrier returned, and that there would be no repeat warning.

He did not name the aircraft carrier, or give details of the action Iran might take if it returned.

On Monday, Iran completed 10 days of naval exercises by firing a series of missiles in the Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz through which more than a third of the world's tanker oil is shipped.

Iranian officials have previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if Western powers pressed ahead with sanctions against Iran's oil sector.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, has said it would not allow shipping to be disrupted in the strait.

Last week, the "USS John C. Stennis" passed through the strait on what the State Department said was a "routine" passage.

compiled from agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/iran_commander_warns_us_aircraft_carrier/24440697.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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