Persian Gulf Fireworks?

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Navy photo / MCS 3rd Class Kathleen L. Church

A Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pronounced SEA-whiz) fires rounds recently from the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea, not far from Iran. The CIWS is designed to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles by firing armor-piercing tungsten penetrator rounds, or depleted uranium with discarding sabots rounds, at rates of up to 4,500 rounds per minute. Ouch.

Lede story in Wednesday’s New York Times has the U.S. military as a confident boxer, warily eyeing Iran tucked into the far corner of the ring:

The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates.

The story appears 24 years to the day after a U.S. warship mistakenly shot down an Iranian airliner on a regularly-scheduled flight — the USS Vincennes mistook the Airbus passenger plane for an F-14 the U.S. had sold the shah — killing all 290 aboard (h/t Chuck Spinney).

Battleland detailed in December how a battle for control of the strait might unfold.

The U.S. reinforcements come as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Egypt. “Iran’s overtures of friendship are not conducive to regional stability but do respond to overtures from [newly-elected Egyptian] President [Mohammed] Mursi,” former veteran Defense Intelligence Agency John McCreary reported on his NightWatch blog. “Egypt, in other words, took the first step.”

This is starting to get interesting.