Iran warns US navy as sanctions pinch

Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the US had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran’s naval exercises,and Iran would take action if the ship returned.

Written by Reuters | Tehran | Published:January 4, 2012 12:32 am

Iran threatened on Tuesday to take action if the US navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf,Tehran’s most aggressive statement yet after weeks of sabre-rattling as new US and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy.

The prospect of sanctions targeting the oil sector in a serious way for the first time has hit Iran’s rial currency,which has fallen by 40 per cent against the dollar in the past month.

The economic impact is being felt ahead of a nationwide parliamentary election on March 2,the first vote since a disputed 2009 presidential election that brought tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators into the streets.

Army chief Ataollah Salehi said the US had moved an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf because of Iran’s naval exercises,and Iran would take action if the ship returned. It did not name the carrier,but the USS John C Stennis leads a task force in the region,and the US Navy’s 5th Fleet website pictured it in the Arabian Sea last week.

“Iran will not repeat its warning … the enemy’s carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasise to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf,” army chief Salehi said. “I advise,recommend and warn them over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

The Pentagon said US warships will continue to sail in the Gulf despite an Iranian warning to stay away.

Pentagon press secretary George Little issued a written statement Tuesday saying that the US Navy presence in the Gulf is in compliance with international law. And he said it is intended to maintain what he called a “constant state of high vigilance” in order to ensure the flow of sea commerce.

Rafsanjani’s daughter jailed

TEHRAN: The daughter of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was Tuesday sentenced to six months jail for anti-state propaganda during the 2009 disputed presidential election. Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani was tried on charges of campaigning against the Islamic establishment,ISNA reported.

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