In what the State Department and White House say is a result of Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. rejected warnings from Iran to not return aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis to the Persian Gulf region. A U.S official told Fox News the Navy will “certainly not disrupt any of its planned movements based on this latest threat,” adding that Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz or act outside recognized international law is “further evidence that Iran continues to operate outside the norms of most nations.”
According to the state-run news agency IRNA, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi commander of Iran’s Army said “Iran will not repeat its warning … the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf….we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”
In an e-mailed statement yesterday George Little, a spokesman for the Pentagon said, ”These are regularly scheduled movements in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations,” Little said. “The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades.” He said the U.S. Navy is always vigilant and will work to “ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce.”
The latest Iranian threat comes at a time when sanctions are having an impact on its economy, and is facing political uncertainty with an election in March. It will be the first since a 2009 vote which started countrywide demonstrations. The U.S. and Europe have imposed the increased sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful only. Western countries are wary and believe the end result is to build an atomic bomb.
Jay Carney, White House spokesman, said in a CNN report, “I think it reflects the fact that Iran is in a position of weakness. It’s the latest round of Iranian threats, and it’s confirmation that Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failures to live up to its international obligation,” he said. “Iran is isolated and is seeking to divert attention from its behavior and domestic problems. This is simply a measure of the impact that sanctions have been having on Iran and the broad international support for… putting pressure on Iran and isolating Iran because of its refusal to live up to its international obligations.”