Pentagon mulling show of force to Iran

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is considering a buildup of Navy forces in the
Persian Gulf as a show of force against
Iran, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the idea has not been approved,
the official said one proposal is to send a second aircraft carrier to the
region amid increasing tensions with Iran, blamed for encouraging sectarian
violence in neighboring
Iraq as well as allegedly pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

The United States and its European allies are seeking sanctions against Iran
because of its refusal to stop uranium enrichment, a technology that can be
used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or fuel for a nuclear
In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that U.N. sanctions
would not stop Iran from pursuing its uranium enrichment program, which he
has said is for peaceful development of energy.

Bush administration officials have repeatedly declined to rule out the use
of force against Iran, though they have also said their first choice is to
rely on diplomacy.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said military action against Iran would be "rather unwise and
disastrous." Annan, who is leaving his job Dec. 31, made the comment to
reporters at a news conference as the Security Council debated a resolution
that would impose sanctions on Tehran.

The idea of building up
U.S. Navy forces has been discussed over some time and it's unclear when a
decision will be made, the defense official said.

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is already in the region. It
left the United States in late September with four other Norfolk-based ships
and submarines carrying 6,500 sailors.

The flotilla headed to the Mediterranean Sea and eventually went to relieve
the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Enterprise strike group, which was in
the region supporting operations in Iraq and

Also, the U.S. in late October led a naval training exercise aimed at
blocking smuggling of nuclear weapons in the Persian Gulf.

The six-nation maneuvers off the coast of Iran were the first of their kind
North Korea's Oct. 9 nuclear test and U.N. sanctions that called on the
international community to conduct searches at sea to ensure the reclusive
communist nation is not secretly expanding its nuclear program.