US army 'prepared' to deal with Iran

US army 'prepared' to deal with Iran

The US military is now “fully prepared” to deal with any Iranian effort to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Gulf avenue for international oil shipments, defence secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday.

At a Pentagon news conference, Panetta was asked whether in light of Iran’s threat to close the strait in retaliation for stronger international economic sanctions, Washington is adjusting US forces in the region.

“We are not making any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation,” Panetta replied. “Why? Because, frankly, we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now.”

He noted that routine planning continues as the United States and its allies consider a range of potential Iran-related problems.

The navy this month added a second aircraft carrier strike group in the West Asia, portraying it as part of a normal rotation and not a deliberate buildup of force.

The carriers are the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Abraham Lincoln, under the control of US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The United States has kept a continuous naval presence in the Gulf region for decades, however, international concerns about a potential confrontation have grown amid tensions over the advancement of Iran’s nuclear programme.

The US also has military forces in nearby United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and other Gulf nations.

‘Iran can build bomb’

A former Israeli military intelligence chief said Iran has all the components to build a nuclear bomb, AP reports from Jerusalem.

It was not clear whether Amos Yadlin was referring to the mechanical elements of a bomb or implying the Iranians have sufficient weapons-grade uranium, a critical ingredient for bombmaking. Israel considers Iran to be the most fearsome of its foes, citing its nuclear programme, arsenal of long-range missiles and repeated references to Israel’s destruction.

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