U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that sending a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf could serve as a ” reminder” to Iran, but he said it is not an escalation of force.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Mexican leaders, Gates said heightening U.S. criticism of Iran and its support for terrorist groups is not a signal that the administration is laying the groundwork for a strike against Tehran.
Still, he said Iran continues to back the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“I do not have a sense at this point of a significant increase in Iranian support for the Taliban and others opposing the government in Afghanistan,” Gates said. “There is, as best I can tell, a continuing flow, but I would still characterize it as relatively modest.”
His comments contrasted with those from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last week that he had not seen any new signs of Iranian support for the Taliban.
Gates played down the addition of a second carrier to the Gulf, saying that the number of ships there rises and falls continuously. He said he does not expect there to be two carriers there for a long time.
Asked if the carrier move went hand-in-hand with the rising U.S. rhetoric against Iran, Gates said, “I don’t see it as an escalation. I think it could be seen, though, as a reminder.”
The US Navy will conduct background checks on its 20,000 sailors and civilians in Japan after a series of crimes including the murder of a taxi driver, a local city office said Wednesday.Rear Admiral James Kelly, commander of US naval forces in close ally Japan, explained the plan in a visit to the mayor of Yokosuka, a port city near Tokyo that hosts the largest US naval base overseas.
In the survey starting next month, the first of its kind for US forces in Japan, the military will ask all 20,000 naval service members and civilian personnel about their lifestyles and attitudes.
If the military finds those with problematic attitudes or violent tendencies, it would give them intensive training and counselling, according to a document that the US Navy gave to the city.
“The programme drawn by the US Navy in Japan this time will be proposed to the (other) US forces in Japan in the mid and long-term,” the document said.
Heavily armed pirates attacked a Thai oil tanker carrying jet fuel in Malaysian waters and a South Korean vessel in the pirate infested Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog said Tuesday.
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, told AFP that in the April 25 incident, eight armed pirates on a powerful speedboat boarded the Thai tanker.
Maritime officials identified the tanker as “Pataravarin 2.”
Choong said the pirates attacked the ship’s master and stole seafarers money before escaping in the dark.
The ship was heading into the Singapore Strait on the way to Phuket in southern Thailand, he said.
Choong said this was the second pirate attack since January this year in Malaysian waters.
In another incident in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, a South Korean bulk carrier came under pirate attack on Monday at about 0940 GMT, he said.
Russia has proposed a price escalation of a staggering $1.2 billion for re-equipping aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and technical evaluation and negotiations in this regard are underway, the government said on Wednesday.
Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister A K Antony said the Russian side has indicated revision in time and cost for repairing the aircraft carrier due to ‘growth of work’.
“The price escalation proposed by the Russian side is $1,202 million. The process of examination of the scope and necessity for additional work projected by the Russian side has been initiated,” he said.
Under a contract worth $1.5 billion signed between Russia and India in 2003, Moscow [Images] was to deliver the carrier along with its compliment of MiG-29K fighters in August 2007.
But just months short of the scheduled delivery, Moscow stunned New Delhi by asking for an increase in cost to almost double, saying the warship needed a lot of additional work and would have to undergo almost a year-long sea trial in Russian waters.