U.S. Carrier Passes Through Gulf Without Incident Despite Threats

Flanked by British and French ships as backup, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier moved through the Strait of Hormuz without incident Sunday despite recent threats from Iran.

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement that the Lincoln “completed a regular and routine transit of the strait … to conduct maritime security operations.” The Lincoln is in the region with the USS Carl Vinson, giving the U.S. Navy its standard two-carrier presence there.

Several weeks ago, as the USS John Stennis left the Persian Gulf and headed back to the western Pacific, Iranian officials warned the United States not to send in another carrier. Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the only outlet to and from the Persian Gulf between Iran and the United Arab Emirates as well as Oman, as Iran faces increased scrutiny over its nuclear program and possible sanctions on its oil exports. The critical shipping lane had 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has responded by threatening to “respond” if Iran attempts to shut down traffic. He said that the U.S. naval and military presence in the region will not change and the current level is sufficient to deal with any situation that could arise.

 

Source: CNN

Image: The Telegraph

Iranian Woman Sentenced to Die by Stoning or Hanging

A woman sentenced to die by stoning will be executed, Iranian officials said Monday, but the method of execution is still being debated, according to an Iranian media report. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case drew international attention after she was sentenced to die by stoning for adultery.

“This lady is accused of two crimes,” Hojatoleslam Sharifi, the judiciary chief of Eastern Azarbaijan province, said at a news conference Monday, the semi-official Iran Student’s News Agency reported. “One is adultery, which is punishable by stoning to death, and the other is assisting in her husband’s murder. She is currently serving 10 years for helping to kill her husband.”

Officials have decided to await Larijani’s decision. Since Ashtiani is currently serving time, “we agreed there is no hurry,” Sharifi said.

“What I can tell you now is that we are waiting to see if someone who has been sentenced to be executed by stoning could be executed by hanging instead.”

Ashtiani, a mother of two, will be executed as soon as a decision is reached, Sharifi said. She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and was later convicted of being an accessory to murder in her husband’s death. Her family has denied that she played any role in the death.

Human rights groups and various governments have urged Iran not to execute Ashtiani. Last year, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton demanded that Iran stop the execution from proceeding, and British Foreign Minister William Hague called the proposed stoning a “barbaric punishment.”

 

Source: CNN.com

Image: ABC News