WASHINGTON - The United States and Britain will begin sending additional warships and fighter planes into the Persian Gulf, this according to a report published in the New York Times on Thursday.
The move will be played against the backdrop of the official proposal calling for sanctions against Iran which was submitted to the UN Security Council, now with the approval of the five countries with veto-privileges.
The United States has agreed to a softer version of the proposed sanctions – provided that Russia and China drop their opposition to the move.
The US is less interested in the fine-points of the proposal and more in the decision itself to slap Iran with sanctions, thus beginning the process of economically isolating Iran within the Security Council – and more importantly outside of it.
The Security Council may rule on the matter as early as Friday, allowing the US to set into motion a diplomatic move that will span the industrialized countries, including Japan, to encourage nations to apply their own sanctions against Iran – without waiting for the rest of the process to play out in the UN.
Second aircraft carrier in the Gulf
To display their determination regarding the matter, the US and Britain have also authorized steps to apply psychological pressure on Tehran in announcing their intent to launch aircraft carriers and warplanes to the Persian Gulf.
The New York Times reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is expected to authorize a request by military commanders to deploy a second aircraft carrier to the region which will join the 'Eisenhower' already in the Gulf.
US military officials clarified that the increase of military force in the region was not be seen as preparations for an attack on Iran, but to make clear that US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan will not prevent the country from being able to take military action should diplomatic efforts prove unsuccessful.
Boosting naval presence in the area would also serve as a means to ensure that Iran won't try to block oil shipments in retaliation for the sanctions.
The US is already in the process of increasing the number of minesweeping vessels and Britain also plans to deploy two such anti-mine vessels, which will join the international coalition already patrolling the region.
The Times reports that the Eisenhower arrived in the Persian Gulf ten days ago and will be joined by the 'Stennis' aircraft carrier in early 2007. Not since the departure of the 'Enterprise' in July of this year has the US had such a large naval presence in the Gulf.