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US weapons sales underscore tensions with Iran

Amid an escalating war of words between the US and Iran over the Strait of Hormuz, US officials announce lucrative arms deals to Gulf allies.
Iran hormuz weaponsEnlarge
An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speed boat, passing by a submarine during navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on December 28, 2011. (ALI MOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images)

The US has stepped up weapons sales to its Middle East allies in the Gulf region neighboring Iran, as a row over American military presence in the Strait of Hormuz deepens.

Striking multi-billion arms deals with oil-rich Gulf nations is nothing new for the US, but recent announcements of weapons contracts with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates come amid heightened tensions with Iran over a key waterway in the Persian Gulf.

Iran again today threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if a US aircraft carrier is redeployed there, AFP reports from Tehran.

The first threat came on Dec. 28, 2011 when Iran's navy chief boasted that closing the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic would be "easier than drinking a glass of water," according to Reuters. 

The next day, the US announced a $30 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, which wants to stem Iranian influence in the Gulf.

On Dec. 30, 2011, yet another US arms deal was announced, this time with the UAE for an advanced missile defense system worth $3.5 billion.

See photos of the Strait of Hormuz here

More from GlobalPost: Iran test-fires missile near Strait of Hormuz

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/us-weapons-sales-underscore-tensions-iran

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