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Iran says US can t clear Gulf of mines.

Iran: Iran s Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday scoffed at US claims that it could Gulf waters of mines in case of conflict, after Washington announced plans for a multinational anti-mine operation.

"The Americans boast a lot about many things, but they are facing problems in practice," General Mahmoud Fahimi, deputy chief of the Guards naval forces, told the Fars news agency.

"We have no doubt that the United States cannot do anything in the area of minesweeping."

The United States and about 20 other nations are to hold a major anti-mine operation near the Gulf on September 16-27, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, after Iran threatened it could block oil shipments through the waterway.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the operation was "a defensive exercise aimed at preserving freedom of navigation in international waterways in the Middle East."

Washington has warned Tehran not to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, which the Islamic republic has threatened to do if international sanctions against its controversial nuclear programme begin to bite.

It has deployed the USS Ponce to serve as logistical backup in the anti-mine effort, and doubled to eight the number of minesweepers in the Gulf and sent in four MH-53 Sea Stallion anti-mine choppers as well as underwater drones.

"Look how weak they are. They want to use minesweeping drones. If they had the ability and capability, they would carry out the minesweeping by manned systems," Fahimi said.

He boasted Iran was "a master of mine designing and has an unbeatable capability to mass-produce different types of mines."

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jul 18, 2012
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