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US Reportedly Beefing Up Defenses in Persian Gulf

VOA News 31 January 2010

U.S. media reports say the United States is speeding up the deployment of anti-missile defenses in four Persian Gulf nations as it continues to confront Iran over its nuclear program.

The reports say the United States is also beefing up its naval presence in the region with special ships with the ability to shoot down missiles.

According to U.S. military officials, the four nations which have agreed to deploy the anti-missile systems are Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The deployments are said to be part of a broader campaign by the Obama administration to increase pressure on Iran, which denies charges that is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to support tough new sanctions against the Tehran government and its Revolutionary Guards Corps. She said Beijing will face diplomatic isolation if it fails to recognize the destabilizing impact of a nuclear-armed Iran.

U.S. General David Petraeus, who heads the U.S. Central Command, calls Iran a "very serious threat." He said earlier this month that the accelerated defense cooperation includes the deployment of eight Patriot missile batteries, two in each of four Gulf countries, although he did not say which.

The deployments are part of program begun by former President George W. Bush to provide anti-missile systems to friendly Arab states concerned about an Iranian threat.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP.

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