For Hormuz access, US beefs up forces in Persian Gulf
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THOM SHANKER, ERIC SCHMITT & DAVID E. SANGER
The US has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear programme escalates.
The deployments are part of a long-planned effort to bolster US military presence in the gulf region, in part to reassure Israel that in dealing with Iran, as one senior administration official put it last week, "When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it."
But at a moment that the US and its allies are beginning to enforce a much broader embargo on Iran's oil exports.
The most visible elements of this buildup are Navy ships designed to vastly enhance the ability to patrol the Strait of Hormuz — and to reopen the narrow waterway should Iran attempt to mine it to prevent Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters from sending their tankers through the vital passage. The Navy has doubled the number of minesweepers assigned to the region, to eight vessels, in what military officers describe as a purely defensive move. "The message to Iran is, 'Don't even think about it,' " one senior Defence Department official said.
Also since late spring, stealthy F-22 and older F-15C warplanes have moved into two separate bases in the Persian Gulf.
Test-fired missiles after threat: Iran
DUBAI: Iran said on Tuesday it had successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel as a response to threats of attack, the latest move in a war of nerves with the West. Iran's official Press TV said the Shahab 3 missile with a range of 1,300 km — able to reach Israel — was tested along with the shorter-range Shahab 1 and 2. Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said the tests were in response to Iran's enemies who talk of a military option.
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