Iran threatens action if US aircraft carrier returns to Gulf
TEHRAN - A US aircraft carrier currently deployed in the Middle East should "not return" to its base in the Gulf, the head of Iran's armed forces declared Tuesday, adding ominously there would be no repeat warning.
"We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Persian Gulf," Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi told reporters, according to the armed forces website.
"We don't have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once," he was quoted as saying.
The warning came just one day after Iran's navy completed 10 days of manoeuvres at the entrance to the Gulf with the test-firing of three missiles designed to sink warships.
The aircraft carrier Salehi was referring to was the USS John C. Stennis, one of the US navy's biggest vessels.
The US vessel last week passed through the Strait heading east across the Gulf of Oman and through a zone where the Iranian navy was holding its manoeuvres. The US Defence Department said the passage was "routine."
The United States keeps at least one aircraft carrier in or near the Gulf at all times, on rotations of weeks or months. It maintains the base of its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf state of Bahrain. Iran still ‘developing’ nuclear arms
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday that Iran was continuing to develop nuclear weapons and called for stronger sanctions against Tehran.
"Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it," he told French television I-Tele. "The last report by the International Atomic Energy Agency is quite explicit on this point."
"This is why France, without closing the path of negotiation and dialogue with Iran, wants stricter sanctions, " he added.
He said French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a freezing of assets of Iran's central bank and an embargo on exports of Iranian oil, a move also being considered by the European Union.
Tensions have risen in recent days after Iran -- which insists its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes -- test-fired a series of missiles near the key Gulf oil supply route of the Strait of Hormuz.