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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran: Warships Will Make Suez Passage

VOA News February 17, 2011

Iranian state media say Tehran is sending two warships through the Suez Canal.

Press TV on Thursday quoted an unnamed Iranian navy official as saying Egyptian authorities see "nothing wrong" with the vessels' passage.

Earlier, Suez Canal officials said no Iranian naval ships would pass through the waterway Thursday. The official said the waterway's management had not received any requests by Iranian naval ships to transit the canal.

Other officials said Thursday that plans for the two ships – a frigate and a supply ship - to pass through had been cancelled.

Iran television contradicted that report but did not specify on Thursday when the voyage will take place.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that Iran was about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years and called it a "provocation."

He told American Jewish organization leaders visiting Jerusalem that the Iranian ships were heading toward the Mediterranean and Syria.

Israel views Iran as a threat because of its nuclear program, its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and calls by Iranian leaders for the demise of the Israeli state.

Vessels intending to transit the Suez Canal must give the waterway's authority at least 24-hours notice before entering the canal.

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