A SECOND US aircraft carrier arrived in Middle Eastern waters today as promised by US President George W Bush amid an escalating crisis with nearby Iran over its nuclear program.Don't you love the incoherence of their position? We are not aiming this action at Iran, but they had better see the deployment "as a signal to Iran." Nothing to see here... move along.
The Stennis "entered the US 5th Fleet area of operations ... to conduct maritime security operations in regional waters, as well as to provide support for ground forces operating in Afghanistan and Iraq", said a US statement.
Mr Bush on January 10 unveiled his new strategy for Iraq which included deploying a second aircraft carrier group and a Patriot anti-missile defence system "to reassure our friends and allies".
Washington accuses arch-foe Tehran of stoking the insurgency in Iraq and of seeking to develop a nuclear bomb, charges denied by the Islamic republic.
Days after Mr Bush's announcement, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the Stennis's redeployment was a signal to Iran, which, he said, has a "very negative" attitude.
Iran has also been carrying out military exercises in the region, including test-firing missiles and building drones that military commanders boasted could hit the US navy.
The White House has repeatedly insisted it has no plans to strike Iran, and downplayed the significance of reinforcing the US military presence in the Gulf region.
2nd Carrier Group to the Gulf
We may wake up at War. There will be no gradual build up as there was with Iraq. One of the reasons we need to get out of Iraq is to preclude the possibility that Bush will take action against Iran. I'm on record thinking any type of strike would be a bad idea, but we're moving more resources into the Gulf anyway.