Iran questions dozens of Western warships in Gulf
Iran’s defence minister warned on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic could strike back at Western warships in the Gulf if it were attacked over its nuclear programme, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Ahmad Vahidi said there were now more than 90 war vessels in the Gulf — a waterway crucial for global oil supplies — and that they had created a “military environment” there.
They included submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers, he said during a conference in Tehran on the Gulf.
“What is the reason underlying the deployment of this many warships and what aim are they pursuing … are they arrayed against Iran?” Fars quoted Vahidi as saying.
“The Westerners know well that the existence of these warships in the Persian Gulf serve as the best operational targets for Iran if they should want to undertake any military action against Iran,” he said.
“The Americans have made conflicting comments (on the possibility of an attack on Iran),” the official IRNA news agency quoted Vahidi as saying.
Last month, Vahidi said Iran would strike back at Israeli weapons manufacturing sites and nuclear installations if the Jewish state attacked the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
Iran has often warned it would retaliate for any attack on its nuclear facilities, which Israel often threatens to stage an attack.
Iran says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.
However, most experts estimate that Israel has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the country’s Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel, which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year history, has not denied having nuclear weapons, but has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open its facilities for IAEA perusal.