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US Carrier Deploys In Gulf As Iran Complains Of Incursions

Nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.US Imposes Sanctions On Iranian Firm Over Nuclear Work
Washington (AFP) March 30 - The United States on Friday ordered a freeze on the assets of an Iranian defense contractor accused of involvement in Tehran's nuclear and missile programs. The sanctions were ordered by the State Department against Iran's Defense Industries Organization (DIO) under the terms of two UN Security Council resolutions adopted since December which are aimed at forcing Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The resolutions require states to freeze the assets of certain entities and individuals associated with Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The DIO is one of seven nuclear-related entities listed in an annex to the December resolution, which was expanded by a second Security Council action adopted last week. The company was named by the UN nuclear watchdog as a supplier of parts for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, a process which can produce fuel for nuclear power stations or material for atomic weapons. The US measure was largely symbolic since the DIO was already subject to US sanctions under various US laws. "We'd be surprised if there were any (DIO) assets in the United States or under the control of US entities," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "But there may well be, and so we are going to go through and do due diligence to make sure if there are any of those assets we do find them and we're going to freeze them," he said.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 30, 2007
Nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz will sail Monday to support US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Navy said, amid a spike in tensions over Iran's seizure of 15 British marines and sailors.

The Nimitz, and its battle group of destroyers and guided missile cruisers, will relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which this week took part in war games exercises in the Gulf with another carrier, USS John S Stennis.

The new battle group will be in position by late-to-mid April, but there will be no overlap with the Eisenhower, and the number of US carriers in the area would stay at two, a navy official said on condition of anonymity.

"If anything, there would be a point where there is only one in the region," the official said, on condition of anonymity.

The Stennis and the Eisenhower wound down their show of force involving 15 warships in the Gulf on Thursday.

The two carrier deployment in the Gulf was the highest level US naval presence in the key strategic channel since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

The Nimitz will support operations in Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, the navy said in a press release.

The Stennis had been operating in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea but entered Gulf waters on Tuesday, escorted by the guided-missile carrier USS Antietam, the Fifth Fleet said.

earlier related report
Iran accuses US jet fighters of violating airspace
Tehran (AFP) April 1 - US warplanes have violated Iranian airspace in the southwestern oil province of Khuzestan, the Arabic language channel of Iranian state television quoted a local military chief as saying on Sunday.

However, a US military spokesman said he had checked into reports of an airspace violation and denied that any took place.

"Two US aircraft trespassed into Iranian airspace northwest of (the port city of) Abadan before flying southwest into Iraq," a Revolutionary Guards commander in Abadan identified only as Colonel Aqili was quoted as saying by the Al-Alam channel's website.

"The planes left white vapour trails, attracting the local people's attention," he said, without elaborating on when the alleged incursion took place.

The incident happened close to Iran's border with Iraq, where the US and British military are deployed in force, he said.

A US military spokesman told AFP that he had investigated the Iranian military's claim and found no evidence to support it.

"There is nothing that we saw that would indicate that that happened," he told AFP.

The United States is in a mounting diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its efforts to master the nuclear fuel cycle and Western suspicions that Tehran is bent on developing nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Iran.

Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff but has never ruled out military action.

Tensions have spiked since Iran's seizure on March 23 of 15 British marines and sailors for allegedly entering Iranian waters.

Iran says the Britons entered its waters illegally while London insists they were in Iraqi waters on an anti-smuggling patrol under UN mandate.

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Iran Warns UK Over Politicising Crisis As Splits Emerge In Tehran
Tehran (AFP) March 31, 2007
Iran on Saturday again warned Britain against politicising the seizure of its 15 navy personnel, saying that could complicate efforts to resolve the escalating crisis.

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