by Geezer Power …12:44 PM PDT
By Mohammed Abbas
MANAMA, May 24 (Reuters)
– The U.S. navy began war games on Iran’s doorstep on Thursday, navy officials said, a day after a large flotilla of U.S. ships entered the Gulf in a dramatic daytime show of military muscle.
The group includes two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, whose presence adds to the pressure on the Islamic Republic to abandon its own nuclear ambitions, which the West says are an attempt to develop atomic weapons.
Iran, already under U.N. sanctions for enriching uranium, says its plans are for energy purposes only.
Asked if any of the American ships carried atomic weapons, a U.S. navy spokesman said the United States routinely did not comment on whether its warships were equipped with nuclear arms.
On the same day the U.S. ships entered the Gulf, skirting Iran’s coast as they passed the Gulf’s narrowest point, the U.N.’s atomic agency released a report saying Iran was continuing to defy world demands to stop enriching uranium.
The agency’s report opens the way for tougher sanctions.
“The Stennis is conducting flight operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nimitz is conducting an air defence exercise. Bonhomme Richard is conducting replenishment at sea,” navy Media Operations Officer Denise Garcia told Reuters.
The USS John C. Stennis, USS Nimitz, and the USS Bonhomme Richard are part of the group of nine ships that entered the Gulf on Wednesday, sending oil prices higher as jittery markets eyed possible tensions in the oil shipping hub.
From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs Office
GULF OF OMAN (May 22, 2007) – Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 69), and amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transit the Gulf of Oman. These ships along with USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Preble (DDG 88), USS O’Kane (DDG 77), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Denver (LPD 9) and USS Russell (DDG 59) are part of three different strike groups: John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, and Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. All three strike groups are deployed in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Hyde
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