U.S. warships will continue their rounds in Persian Gulf, Pentagon says
Published: January 3, 2012
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military won’t tiptoe around the Persian Gulf region because of Iranian threats, the Pentagon promised Tuesday.
“The deployment of U.S. military assets to the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,” Pentagon press secretary George Little 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.”
The war of words between Washington and Tehran has intensified in recent days, as Iran reacts to threats of sanctions related to its nuclear program that could shut down much of its lucrative oil trade. In a show of force, Iran conducted a cruise missile test Monday that its officials said demonstrated full control of the Strait of Hormuz, a key passageway for Middle Eastern oil.
And the head of Iran’s Army, Gen. Ataollah Salehi, warned the United States on Tuesday not to send an aircraft carrier back into to the Persian Gulf – the USS John C. Stennis recently left the area – saying, “We are not in the habit of warning more than once.”
But American ship movements won’t be impeded, Little said. The United States wouldn’t tolerate Iranian attempts to stop the free passage of military or commercial ships through the strait.
“Our transits of the Strait of Hormuz continue to be in compliance with international law, which guarantees our vessels the right of transit passage,” he said. “We are committed to protecting maritime freedoms that are the basis for global prosperity; this is one of the main reasons our military forces operate in the region.”