Western forces react to Iran's Strait of Hormuz threat

Jan. 9, 2012 at 3:15 PM
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TEHRAN, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A buildup of Western naval forces in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea is a reaction to Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, military experts say.

U.S., Russian, French and British air and naval forces moved to the Syrian and Iranian coasts during the weekend, Israeli military intelligence Web site DEBKAfile reported Monday.

The Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov anchored earlier than planned at Syria's Tartus port on the Mediterranean Sunday, causing France to respond by consigning an air defense destroyer to the waters off Tartus, DEBKAfile reported. Canada also was sending a warship, the HMCS Charlottetown, to the Mediterranean where it would take over from the HMCS Vancouver.

Meanwhile, Britain has dispatched a missile destroyer to the Sea of Oman, due to arrive at the same time as the French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier.

And the U.S aircraft carrier John C. Stennis and its strike group are cruising in the Sea of Oman at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz after Tehran announced it would not be allowed to cross through.

The Stennis launched a Global Hawk drone "to monitor sea traffic off the Iranian coast and the Straits of Hormuz," U.S. military sources said.

On Sunday, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, said Iran has the ability to block the Strait of Hormuz "for a period of time."

"We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that." Dempsey said in an interview with CBS.

"Yes, they can block it. We've described that as an intolerable act and it's not just intolerable for us, it's intolerable to the world," he said.

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