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US adds forces to Persian Gulf against Iran threat of blockade

The US added forces to its presence in the Persian Gulf, amid heightened tension with Iran over the Strait of Hormuz.

us strait of hormuz july 3 2012Enlarge
The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its battle group on patrol in the Strait of Hormuz. The US quietly added forces to its presence in the Persian Gulf amid Iran's threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway for trade. (U.S. Navy/AFP/Getty Images)

The US has quietly added forces to its presence in the Persian Gulf to ward off Iran's threat of blocking the Strait of Hormuz, according to The New York Times.

It also increased the number of fighter jets capable of striking Iran, in case tensions over Iran's nuclear program escalate.

The buildup comes at a time when the US and allies have begun enforcing a broader embargo against Iran, to pressure it to give up its nuclear program, said The Times.

A senior Defense Department officials told The Times, "The message to Iran is, 'Don’t even think about it,' Don’t even think about closing the strait. We’ll clear the mines. Don’t even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We’ll put them on the bottom of the gulf."

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Iran meets with world powers in Istanbul on Tuesday to still try to work towards a diplomatic solution, according to Bloomberg.

"We hope Iran will seize the opportunity of this meeting to show a willingness to take concrete steps to urgently meet the concerns of the international community, to build confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to meet its international obligations," said Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, in a statement yesterday.

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Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps began missile tests on Monday to show off its preparedness against possible airstrikes, according to The Washington Post.

Agence France Presse reported that Iranian MPs had signed a draft law which would ban European-bound oil tankers from using the Strait of Hormuz.

"This project is a response to the oil sanctions imposed by the European Union on the Islamic republic," said Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi, of parliament's foreign affairs committee, according to Mehr news agency, as quoted by AFP.

According to analysts, the EU embargoes on Iranian that went into effect on Sunday are gutting Iran's oil exports, which make up half of the government's revenue, said AFP.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/120703/us-adds-forces-persian-gulf-against-iran-threat-blocka