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Iran ramps up threat to US Navy in Gulf

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TEHRAN (AFP): Iran Wednesday reinforced its warning to America against keeping a US Navy presence in the oil-rich Gulf, adding steel to a threat that Washington had dismissed as a sign of "weakness" from Tehran.

"Iran will do anything to preserve the security of the Strait of Hormuz" at the entrance to the Gulf, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, according to the website of Iran's state television.

"The presence of forces from beyond the (Gulf) region has no result but turbulence. We have said the presence of forces from beyond the region in the Persian Gulf is not needed and is harmful," he was quoted as saying.

The comments echoed a warning issued Tuesday by Iran's military that it would unleash its "full force" if a US aircraft carrier is redeployed to the Gulf.

"We don't have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once," Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi, Iran's armed forces chief, said as he told Washington to keep its aircraft carrier out of the Gulf.

The White House Tuesday had brushed off the warning, saying it "reflects the fact that Iran is in a position of weakness" as it struggles under international sanctions.

The US Defence Department said it would not alter its deployment of warships to the Gulf.

But on Wednesday, Salehi again stressed his warning, and called 10 days of Iranian navy war games just held near the Strait of Hormuz as a "message" to the United States.

"The forces from beyond the region have received the appropriate message from these manoeuvres," he said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

"Those who have come as enemies should be afraid of our manoeuvres," he said.

The exercises climaxed Monday with the Iranian navy test-firing three types of missiles designed to sink warships.

The head of Iran's parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission, Aladdin Brujerdi, was also quoted by the Fars news agency as saying the US description of Iran being weak "is a completely illogical stance".

He added: "The US talks about sanctioning our oil but they should know that if Iran's oil exports from the Persian Gulf are sanctioned, then no-one will have the right to export oil through the Strait of Hormuz."

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Iran  US  Warship  Navy  
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