New York Times: Iran announced Tuesday that it had opened a naval base in the Gulf of Oman to counter any hostile forces, in what was clearly an allusion to American Navy vessels patrolling nearby.
The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: October 29, 2008
TEHRAN — Iran announced Tuesday that it had opened a naval base in the Gulf of Oman to counter any hostile forces, in what was clearly an allusion to American Navy vessels patrolling nearby.
The announcement, reported by Iran’s Fars news agency, quoted a naval commander, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, as saying Iran had created the base because of the presence of “nonregional forces” around the Gulf of Oman, which is the gateway to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, vital transit routes for the area’s vast oil supplies.
“We have created a new defense front in the region,” the admiral was quoted as saying. “We are capable of preventing the entry of any enemy naval forces into the strategic Persian Gulf.”
The base, opened on Monday, is in the port of Jask, 700 miles southeast of Tehran. Admiral Sayyari did not specify the type or number of warships or weapons deployed there.
Twenty percent of the world’s oil is shipped through the Strait of Hormuz. It has been the focus of tension in recent months, with Iran threatening to close the strait if the country came under any military attack.
The announcement from Iran came two days after American forces in neighboring Iraq crossed into Syria in a raid to stop weapons smuggling to Iraqi insurgents.
The United States military has accused Iran of smuggling weapons into Iraq, as well as running militia training camps for Iraqis, and the Syria raid increased speculation that Iran might also be subject to such incursions.
In addition, the United States, Israel and the European Union accuse Iran of operating a clandestine nuclear weapons program under the guise of peaceful uranium enrichment, an accusation that Iran has denied. There has been persistent speculation that Israel might make a pre-emptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.