U.S. 'Fully Prepared' In Persian Gulf, Taking 'No Special Steps'
January 19, 2012
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the United States military is not taking any special steps to prepare for a potential crisis with Iran in the Gulf.
Speaking at the Pentagon on January 18, Panetta said the U.S. military is already "fully prepared" to deal with any Iranian effort to close the Strait Of Hormuz, which is used to transport around one-third of the world's seaborne oil exports.
Iran has raised the prospect of closing the strait as tensions have risen in connection with stronger sanctions against the Islamic Republic imposed by the U.S. and its allies over Iran's nuclear program.
"We have continually maintained a strong presence in the [Gulf] region to make very clear that we are going to do everything possible to help secure the peace in that part of the world," Panetta said. "And, so, the answer to your question is that we obviously always continue to make preparations, to be prepared for any contingency, but we are not making any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation. Why? Because frankly we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now."
The U.S. recently added a second aircraft carrier battle group to the region, in line with a normal rotation of carriers, according to officials.
compiled from agency reports
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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