Israel monitoring Iranian warship plans

Feb. 14, 2011 at 6:48 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Israel is closely monitoring Iranian plans to deploy warships in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, Israeli security officials said.

Officials described deployment of ships to those areas and plans to dock at a Syrian port for a year as "serious provocation," the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

There is no justification for Iran to deploy warships to the Mediterranean Sea, and if it does Israel will view the move as "a change in the situation -- and Israel will know how to deal with it," a senior Israeli official told the newspaper.

Iranian warships are now deployed in Bab el-Mandeb, between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean, joining international efforts to combat piracy, the newspaper said.

Western intelligence officials have said that Iranian warships deployed in the Red Sea may be in involved in supplying radical Islamic groups from Yemen with weapons, the report said.

Earlier this month, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, Iranian navy commander, told the Fars news agency his country intends to maintain a powerful and permanent presence in a bid to protect the interests of Iran in the "strategic waters north of the Indian Ocean."

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