Iran Warns US Carrier Away From Persian Gulf

Posted January 3rd, 2012 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
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Iran says a U.S. aircraft carrier should not to return to the Persian Gulf, a day after Tehran completed naval exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian army chief Ataollah Salehi said Tuesday Iran will not repeat its warning, but did not name the U.S. carrier.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said last week the USS John C. Stennis moved out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz in a pre-planned, routine operation.

Iran has threatened to respond to sanctions over its nuclear program by closing the strait, a vital export route for the other oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy says it will not allow disruptions to Gulf shipping.

France on Tuesday called for stronger sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of its central bank.

The statement follows a similar move by the United States, which imposed new sanctions targeting the central bank that could also affect Iran's ability to sell oil on international markets.

Reports from Iran Monday said the nation's currency slumped to a record low against the U.S. dollar, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama signed the sanctions into law.

The step is part of a push to hamper Tehran's ability to finance its nuclear and missile programs.

The United States and the European Union contend Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear intentions are peaceful.