The Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar and organizing its biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf, as preparations accelerate for a possible flare-up with Iran, according to U.S. officials.
The radar site will complete the backbone of a system designed to defend U.S. interests and allies such as Israel and European nations against Iranian rockets, officials told The Wall Street Journal. The minesweeping exercises, in September, will be the first such multilateral drills in the region, and are expected to be announced by U.S. officials Tuesday.
The U.S. moves are intended to address the two Iranian offensive capabilities Pentagon planners most worry about: Tehran's arsenal of ballistic missiles and its threat to shut down the oil-shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz by mining them.
Underscoring concerns, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending an aircraft carrier, the John C. Stennis, to the Middle East several months early to ensure two carriers are present in the region at all times. One of two aircraft carriers now in the area was scheduled to leave before its replacement arrived, prompting the Pentagon to send the Stennis, Pentagon press secretary George Little said.>>>