The U.S. Navy has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program, Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said Monday.
Derrick-Frost said that the deployment of the nuclear-powered USS Enterprise along the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group marks only the fourth time in the past decade that the Navy has had two aircraft carriers operating at the same time in the region.
Derrick-Frost says the two carriers will support the American military operations in Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia's coast and in the Gulf of Aden.
The battleships will also patrol the Gulf's strategic oil routes that Iran has threatened to shut down in retaliation for economic sanctions.
In late January, the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln completed a "regular and routine", accompanied by strike group of warships. That the first U.S. aircraft carrier to enter the Gulf since late December and was on a routine rotation to replace the outgoingUSS John C. Stennis.
The deployment announced on Monday comes less than a week before world superpowers are set to open negotiations in Istanbul with the Islamic Republic over its contentious nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would not agree to world powers imposing pre-conditions ahead of the resumption of talks, Iranian media reported on Monday.
"Setting conditions before the meeting means drawing conclusions, which is completely meaningless and none of the parties will accept conditions set before the talks," the Iranian parliamentary news agency quoted him as saying.
But Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, has hinted that the Islamic Republic may offer a compromise.
At the core of the dispute is the issue of uranium enrichment. The West fears Tehran is seeking an atomic weapon, which the country denies. Uranium has to be enriched to more than 90 percent to be used for a nuclear weapon.
Abbasi told state TV late Sunday thatTehran could stop its production of 20 percent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, and continue enriching uranium to lower levels for power generation.
This could take place once Iran has stock piled enough of the 20 percent enriched uranium, Abbasi said.
Read this article in Hebrew: איתות לטהראן לקראת המו"מ || ארה"ב שלחה עוד נושאת מטוסים למפרץ
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