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Sunday, December 21, 2014  

Iran ships enter Mediterranean in show of ‘military might’
TEHERAN Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean after crossing the Suez Canal on Saturday to show Teheran’s “might” to regional states, the navy commander said, at a time of simmering tensions with Israel even as the British foreign secretary warned of a “a new Cold War” due to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In Occupied Jerusalem, the foreign ministry said Israel will be watching the ship’s movements closely to ensure they do not approach its coast.

“The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the (1979) Islamic Revolution,” Admiral Habibollah Sayari said in remarks quoted by the official Irna news agency.

He did not say how many vessels had crossed the canal, or what missions they were planning to carry out in the Mediterranean, but said the flotilla had previously docked in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah.

Two Iranian ships, the destroyer Shahid Qandi and supply vessel Kharg, had docked in the Red Sea port on February 4, according to Iranian media.

Sayari said the naval deployment to the Mediterranean would show “the might” of the Islamic republic to regional countries, and also convey Teheran’s “message of peace and friendship.”

An official of the Israeli foreign ministry said without elaborating that “we will closely follow the movement of the two ships to confirm that they do not approach the Israeli coast.”

William Hague said Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb would spark an atomic arms race between rival Middle Eastern nations that could be more dangerous than that between the West and the Soviet Union because the old “safety mechanisms” are missing.

“If (the Iranians) obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons,” he told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“The most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilising effects in the Middle East,” he continued.

“And the threat of a new Cold War in the Middle East without necessarily all the safety mechanisms... would be a disaster in world affairs.” The White House said on Friday US President Barack Obama’s top security aide will visit Israel for two days of talks on regional issues including Iran.

National security adviser Tom Donilon’s trip from Saturday through Monday will be “the latest in a series of regular, high-level consultations between the US and Israel, consistent with our strong bilateral partnership, and part of our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security,” the White House said.

Also on Friday, a group of US senators warned Obama that they would strongly oppose any proposal in talks with Iran that would allow it to continue uranium enrichment activities.

A letter signed by a dozen senators from both parties expressed concern that Iran would try to use a resumption of talks with world powers on its nuclear program to buy time and dilute international pressure on it.

Agencies
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