Gulf warms up with the oncoming US aircraft
A US Navy serviceman holding a machine gun stands near F/A-18 Hornet warplanes on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson, a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The USS Carl Vinson is a second aircraft sent to waters near Gulf by the US. AFP photoThe United States denied any role in the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist Jan. 11, the latest in a series of events exacerbating tensions with Iran.
The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was the latest in a month that has already seen new U.S. economic sanctions, threats to bar American ships from the Persian Gulf, an Iranian death sentence to a jailed U.S. citizen and an escalation in Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.
Iranian reports said two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to Roshan’s car, killing him and his driver. Roshan was a chemistry expert and director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran; the slaying suggests a widening covert effort to set back the Islamic republic’s atomic program. U.S. officials have meanwhile denied involvement. “I want to categorically deny any U.S. involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters. The attack in Tehran bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear program, which Iran blamed on Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and Britain’s spy agency. But all three countries have denied the Iranian accusations.
Clinton expanded her criticism of Iran on Jan. 11 while speaking alongside Qatar’s visiting prime minister, expressing concern about a series of “provocative and dangerous” threats by Iranian officials to close off the Strait of Hormuz. Connecting the world to the oil-rich waters of the Persian Gulf, “This is an international waterway,” she told reporters in Washington. “The U.S. and others are committed to keeping it open. It is part of the lifeline that keeps oil and gas moving around the world.” Meanwhile, a second U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, arrived in the Gulf region, the Pentagon said Jan. 11, calling the move “routine” and denying any link to mounting tensions with Iran. Backed by a cruiser, destroyer and with almost 80 planes and helicopters on board, the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group “arrived in the US 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR)” on Jan. 9, a Fifth Fleet statement said. The area covers the Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby told reporters the Carl Vinson was “not in the Gulf” and had not gone through the Strait of Hormuz. The Carl Vinson was due to relieve another aircraft carrier in the region, the USS John Stennis, Kirby said.
“Her deployment in that area is routine, long-planned – there’s nothing unusual about that. The numbers of carrier strike groups attached to the Centcom AOR change all the time, and it’s been consistently that way,” he added. “The fact there are two carriers in the AOR is not an indication of anything specific in respect to Iran,” the spokesman said. Despite the Pentagon’s denials of a build-up in the region, the USS Abraham Lincoln was in the Indian Ocean en route to join the Carl Vinson, according to the U.S. Navy.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories bythe Daily News staff.
TURKEY RELIEVES TEHRAN ON NATO MISSILE SHIELD SYSTEM
Sevil Küçükkoşum - ANKARA
As Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visits Turkey, Turkish leaders told the Iranian official the NATO radar system was for defense over the spreading ballistic missile threat in the region.
In reply to Iran’s concerns on the radar system deployed in Turkey as part a U.S.-led NATO missile project, Turkish officials conveyed to Larijani that the system did not have an aiming attack capacity.
“It’s a defensive system for increasing ballistic threat in the region,” Turkish officials told Larijani, according to diplomatic sources. In the talks, the Turkish side conveyed its concerns on tensions in Iraq and Syria and said the Syrian regime must halt bloodshed and respond to its people’s legitimate demands. “Developments in Iraq and Syria that are giving a sectarian image would not serve for peace and stability in the Middle East,” both Turkish officials and the Iranian parliament speaker confirmed in the talks, a diplomatic source told Hürriyet Daily News. Turkish officials said for a stable and prosperous Iraq, Turkey and Iran should work together, the source said. Turkey is determined to improve relations with Iran in every field, Turkey’s parliament speaker said as his Iranian counterpart Ali Larijani visited Ankara. “There are some who try to create trouble in our ties, but we should not give them the opportunity,” Cemil Çiçek told reporters yesterday. Larijani also met with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.