Iran outlines no-go zones for US warships

"We have warned them (foreign naval forces) before that some areas in the Persian Gulf are considered by us as zones of threat and they should not stop in those areas," Major General Ataollah Salehi, commander of the Iranian Army, told the state-run Fars News Agency Wednesday. 


Salehi's comments were in response to the recent deployments of two Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Enterprise and Abraham Lincoln, to the Persian Gulf. 

Those ships were sent to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility to support ongoing operations in Afghanistan and to participate in counter-piracy missions off the Horn of Africa, according to Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich. 

Fifth Fleet is home to Navy Central Command and is headquartered in Bahrain. 

The deployments come at a time when the United States and its allies are attempting to coax Iran back to the negotiating table over its burgeoning nuclear program. 

When asked if the American carriers had breached these so-called "red zones," Salehi replied Navy leaders "have paid attention to the warning and are respecting it." 

The carrier deployments in April are just the latest in a number of Navy deployments since tensions between Washington and Tehran hit a boiling point in January over Navy operations in the Straits of Hormuz. 

Tehran set off a seemingly dangerous game of one-upmanship with the United States and its allies when it threatened to take control of the key waterway bordering Iranian coastline. 

The Straits are a vital transit point for commercial and military vessels looking to enter the Persian Gulf. 

Weeks of diplomatic saber-rattling between the two countries eventually forced Iran to back off, but not before it banned U.S. Navy warships from entering the Straits.

There have been four carrier strike groups deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility since January, according to Rebarich. 

The USS John C. Stennis, Carl Vinson, Abraham Lincoln, and Enterprise have all been sent to the region since Iran withdrew its threat to seize the Straits. 

"The deployment of U.S. Navy assets [to the Persian Gulf] are regularly scheduled movements in accordance with our longstanding commitments to the security and stability of the region an in support of ongoing operations," Rebarich said. 

--This article was updated at 10:57A.M. to include comments from Navy Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich.