- If possible, print the article before reading.
- As you read, circle or underline the names of people, organizations and important facts.
- Use your own words to answer the questions in complete sentences.
(from NYPost.com) TEHRAN — The U.S. military on Tuesday dismissed Iranian threats over its deployment of warships in the Persian Gulf, saying it would maintain its commitment to securing the strategic waters.
Iran warned the U.S. that an American aircraft carrier on duty in the Middle East should not return to its base in the Gulf, adding that the Islamic Republic had no intention of “repeating its warning.”
“We advise and insist that this warship not return to its former base in the Persian Gulf. We don’t have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once,” Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi said, according to the [Iranian government's] Fars news agency.
But despite Tuesday’s tough warning from Tehran, the US vowed to continue with its “regularly scheduled movements” in the Persian Gulf.
Defense spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said in a statement that, “The deployment of US military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades.”
“These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations. Our transits of the Strait of Hormuz continue to be in compliance with international law which guarantees our vessels the right of transit passage,” he added.
The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis — referred to in Iran’s threat — is one of the US navy’s largest vessels. Last week it passed through the Strait of Hormuz traveling east across the Gulf of Oman in what the US Defense Department called a “routine” passage, AFP reported.
The massive aircraft carrier is a nuclear-powered vessel which transports 90 fighter jets and helicopters and is usually escorted by around five destroyers. It is close to finishing its seven-month deployment at sea.
On Monday, Iran wrapped up 10 days of military exercises at the entrance of the Persian Gulf. The exercises saw Iran test-fire three missiles designed to sink warships.
Iran’s armed forces chief-of-staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, on Tuesday said the elite Revolutionary Guards would hold its own navy manoeuvres in the Gulf.
“Manoeuvres are part of the program Iran’s navy and Revolutionary Guards hold each year to increase their preparation. We will soon show the massive might of the Guards’ naval forces,” Firouzabadi said.
The US keeps at least one aircraft carrier in or near the Gulf at all times, on rotations of weeks or months. It maintains the base of its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
The US has warned it will not tolerate a closure of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has said it has no intention of closing the strait, but has carried out “mock” exercises on shutting it.
Earlier Tuesday, French foreign minister Alain Juppe said Iran was continuing to develop nuclear weapons and called for stronger sanctions against Tehran.
“Iran is pursuing the development of its nuclear arms, I have no doubt about it,” he told French television I-Tele. “The last report by the [United Nations'] International Atomic Energy Agency is quite explicit on this point.”
[Over the weekend], President Obama signed into law new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank, which processes most of the Islamic republic’s oil export sales.
The European Union, which is [considering] an embargo on Iranian oil, is expected to announce further sanctions of its own at the end of January. The Western sanctions add to four sets of UN sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear activities.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The New York Post.
1. Define the following words as used in the article:
deployment (from para. 1)
strategic (from para. 1)
transits (from para. 7)
compliance (from para. 7)
sanctions (from para. 15 and 17)
embargo (from para. 18)
2. a) For what reason has the U.S., the UN, and potentially the European Union, imposed various sanctions on Iran?
b) What will/might the latest sanctions do to Iran?
3. What/where is the Strait of Hormuz?
4. Iranian officials have said the 10-day Iranian naval exercise was aimed to show that Iran is able to close the Strait of Hormuz, which it threatened to do if the U.S. enacts the newly passed sanctions against Iran. What warning did Iran’s army chief make on Tuesday?
5. How did the U.S. respond to the Iranian threat? Be specific.
6. U.S. and world sanctions imposed on Iran’s nuclear weapons program have thus far been ineffective. Read the information under “Background” below the questions. Watch the video under “Resources.”
a) Do you think U.S. policy on Iran is too tough, not strong enough, or exactly what we should be doing? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.
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THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ:
- The U.S. Navy said Iran’s threat to block the strategically and economically important Strait of Hormuz is unacceptable.
- “The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity,” Navy 5th Fleet in Bahrain spokeswoman Cmdr. Amy Derrick Frost told reporters on Wednesday [Dec. 28th]. “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”
- The 34-mile-wide shipping channel leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman. It is strategically important because tankers carrying oil travel through it.
- Iran’s vice president has warned that the country could block the strait if sanctions are imposed on its exports of crude oil. France, Britain and Germany have proposed sanctions to punish Iran’s lack of cooperation on its nuclear program.
- Physically closing the strait would require means that likely are not available to Iran, said Professor Jean-Paul Rodrigue of Hofstra University. “At best, Iran can posture and potentially disrupt traffic for a short duration,” said Rodrigue, who specializes in global trade and maritime transportation issues.
- The 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, and Cmdr. Frost noted that the Navy “maintains a robust presence in the region to deter or counter destabilizing activities. We conduct maritime security operations under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters for all commercial shipping to operate freely while transiting the region,” she said.
- Asked whether the fleet would be able to keep the strait open if Iran moved to close it, she said, “The U.S. Navy is a flexible, multi-capable force committed to regional security and stability, always ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.”
- Frost was also asked whether keeping the strait open is part of the fleet’s mandate. She said it is “committed to protecting maritime freedoms that are the basis for global prosperity. This is one of the main reasons our military forces operate in the region.
- “The U.S. Navy, along with our coalition and regional partners, operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce.”
- The French Foreign Ministry stressed that the waterway is an international strait. (from cnn.com)
IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM:
- Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs.
- Under the United Nations’ NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty – the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom).
- Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the Treaty through inspections conducted by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
- The IAEA issued a report on Sept. 15, 2008 that said Iran has repeatedly blocked an investigation into its nuclear program and the probe is now deadlocked.
- The U.N. Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance. Despite the sanctions, Iran has refused to end its nuclear program.
- A group of U.S. and Russian scientists said in a report issued in May 2009 that Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after that. The study, published by the nonpartisan EastWest Institute, also said Iran is making advances in rocket technology and could develop a ballistic missile capable of firing a 2,200-pound nuclear warhead up to 1,200 miles “in perhaps six to eight years.”
- The Iranian government has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions. It is believed that once obtained, Iranian President Ahmadinejad would use nuclear weapons against Israel.
Watch a news video on Iran’s naval exercises below, from the news article “Iran Missile Drill Results Exaggerated, Images Photoshopped” posted at: