As unconfirmed reports of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities pick up steam in the Middle Eastern media, a US-based strategic intelligence company has released a chart showing US naval carriers massing near Iranian waters.
The chart, published by Stratfor and obtained by the Zero Hedge financial blog, shows that over the last few weeks a naval carrier — the USS Harry S Truman — has been positioned in the north Indian Ocean, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, which leads into the Persian Gulf. The carrier joins the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was already located in the area. The chart is dated June 23, 2010.
Reports of mass movements of Israeli and US naval warships have been circulating through the media for weeks. On June 19, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that 12 US and Israeli warships were seen moving through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.
And a report from the Associated Press published Saturday evening cited “unconfirmed” reports from Israeli and Iranian media that Saudi Arabia has allowed Israel to use its territory in preparation for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“The allegation could not be independently confirmed, and the Saudis deny cooperating with the Israeli military,” AP reported.
An article in the Gulf Daily News, largely dismissed by Western observers, did not mention any Saudi involvement but said Israel is preparing to attack Iranian targets from the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The claims that Israel may be preparing for an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities were strengthened this weekend by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who told reporters at the G8 summit in Canada that G8 leaders “believe absolutely” that Israel will “probably” strike Iran.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power [so] the members of the G8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,Ã¢â‚¬Â Berlusconi said, as quoted at Ha’aretz.
CIA director Leon Panetta said Sunday that Iran has enough enriched uranium to build two nuclear bombs. In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Panetta also said he believed the recent spate of international and US sanctions against Iran will not convince the country to change course on its nuclear program.
“Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not,” Panetta said.