The head of the Iranian military has warned the U.S. Fifth Fleet to stay out of the Persian Gulf. The latest bluster comes on the heels of ten days of Iranian “exercises” to close the Straits of Hormuz, a mid-range missile launch, and reports that Iran has produced its first nuclear fuel rod, a critical step toward nuclear weapon capability.
As the USS John C. Stennis left the Persian Gulf on normal maneuvers, Gen. Ataollah Salehi, the commander of the Iranian armed forces, issued the threat. “We warn this ship, which is considered a threat to us, not to come back, and we do not repeat our words twice,” Salehi said.
The U.S. Defense Department immediately rejected the warning. “The deployment of the U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades,” according to Pentagon spokesman George Little. “These are regularly scheduled movements in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations,” Little said.
Iran’s new round of military bluster coincides exactly with new Congressional legislation signed into law on New Year’s Eve by the President that directs the President to implement crippling sanctions on Iran’s central bank. Despite claims by the Administration of seeking effective sanctions against Iran for quite some time, upon signing the bill Obama said he had “serious reservations about certain provisions” of the legislation including the sanctions. Further, the White House says in considers the Congressional mandate for sanctions “non-binding.” Obama managed to get wiggle room into the final bill that allows him a six month “waiver” for implementation of those sanctions. Charles Krauthammer and many others, expect Obama to use the waiver, effectively caving in to Iran’s threats.