Iran warns US carrier to stay out of Persian Gulf

Iran warned an American aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf region Tuesday in the latest aggressive rhetoric against the United States over economic sanctions.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not repeat its warning,” said Iran’s Army chief, Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran said the carrier was patrolling in an area where the country was conducting naval drills.

Tuesday’s comments are the latest saber-rattling from Iran in the face of economic sanctions from both the United States and Europe. President Obama signed into law on Saturday a measure that includes sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, and the EU is considering an oil embargo.

As a result of the potential sanctions, Iran last week threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil passageway in the Persian Gulf through which nearly one-fifth the world’s oil passes.

The Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet responded that it would not allow the strait to be closed. The USS John C. Stennis traveled through the Strait of Hormuz last after Iran threatened to close it. Navy Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a U.S. 5th Fleet spokeswoman, said the passage was a pre-planned trip. 

Military analysts say Iran’s threat to close the strait amounts to a bluff, as Iran doesn’t have the military capability to close the passageway.

Iran concluded its a 10-day war games exercise in the Persian Gulf this week, which included test-firing missiles in the Strait of Hormuz.