Nine US military ships enter Persian Gulf


Richard Moore

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Nine US military ships enter Persian Gulf Wednesday, assembling off Iran¹s coast
in largest American naval move since 2003

May 23, 2007, 6:56 PM (GMT+02:00)

They sailed through the Strait of Hormuz by day - according to US Navy officials
for training exercises. The vessels carry around 17,000 combat and marine 
personnel. They include the two aircraft carriers, USS Nimitz and USS Stennis, 
as well as the USS Bonhomme Richard LHD 6 Group, the world¹s biggest amphibious 
strike force. Iran was not notified of the planned arrival.

DEBKAfile reports the maneuvers take place less than two weeks after Vice 
President Dick Cheney visited the region and informed Saudi King Abdullah and 
fellow Gulf rulers that President George W. Bush has determined that if Iran 
refuses to waive a nuclear weapon capability, the US will attack its nuclear, 
military and economic infrastructure before he leaves the White House in Jan. 

(This was first disclosed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 300 on May 11.)

Our sources also note that the US armada sailed into the Gulf on the day the 
latest UN Security Council ultimatum expired for Iran to give up uranium 
enrichment or face a fresh set of sanctions.

Its presence backs up Cheney¹s pledge and tells the region and Iran that 
Washington may not be satisfied with sanctions and the military option is alive.
Washington is also stiffening its posture ahead of its first direct talks with 
Tehran on Monday, May 28, when US and Iraqi ambassadors meet in Baghdad. The 
message to Iran and its ally Syria is that if the Baghdad talks fail, and they 
refuse to suspend their backing for Iraq¹s insurgents and al Qaeda, the US 
stands ready with a military option.

Tuesday, May 21, a senior US officer in Baghdad accused Iran of orchestrating a 
summer offensive against US troops in Iraq ³linking al Qaeda and Sunni 
insurgents to its Shiite militia allies.² Our sources add that Iran with Syrian 
support has also embarked on a summer offensive in other parts of the Middle 
East, including Lebanon and the Gaza Strip

Rear Admiral Kevin Quinn said maneuvers beginning now are part of a long-planned
effort to reassure nearby countries of America¹s commitment to regional 
security. He told reporters before crossing: ³There is always the threat of any 
state or non-state actor deciding to close one of the international straits, and
the biggest one is the Strait of Hormuz.²


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