DOD Seeks Safe Hormuz Passage for All, Official Says
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2012 Closure of the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened while holding military exercises there since Dec. 23, will not be tolerated, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
According to international news reports, Iran has warned the United States not to replace the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, which last week left the strait -- the only sea passage to the open ocean for petroleum-producing nations in the Persian Gulf region.
“Such regularly scheduled movements are in accordance with longstanding U.S. commitments to the region’s security and stability, and in support of ongoing operations,” Little told reporters.
Such carrier strike group deployments are needed to maintain continuity and operational support to ongoing missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, he added.
“Our interest is in safe and secure maritime passage for ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz,” Little said.
“No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz,” he added. “It’s important to lower the temperature.”
The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades, the Pentagon press secretary said.
The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain “a constant state of high vigilance to ensure the continued safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce,” Little added.
“Our transits of the Strait of Hormuz continue to be in compliance with international law,” he said, “which guarantees our vessels the right of transit passage.”
Little said the department is committed to protecting maritime freedoms that are the basis for global prosperity -- one of the reasons U.S. military forces operate in the region.
“We are obviously aware of reports of missile tests that are apparently tied to Iranian naval exercises that began in late December,” he said, adding that Iran has the right to conduct exercises and that it has taken no hostile or aggressive action against U.S. Navy vessels in the region.
“The United States believes that the Iranian regime should devote its energy and resources to establishing friendly relations with countries in the Gulf region,” Little said.