Egypt Approves Passage Of Iranian Warships Through Suez Canal (Update)

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Crude go whoosh. And just in case it is unclear where this is going, the WSJ reports that according to "diplomats" Iran is redoubling efforts to enrich Uranium by installing faster centrifuges, as it is supposedly seeking to overcome setback to nuclear program believed caused by the Stuxnet virus. Unclear how much information was fabricated in the creation of this latest war provocation (see Iraq WMD).

From Al Arabiya:

Egypt has approved the passage of two Iranian warships through the
Suez Canal, a source said on Friday, a move Israel's right-wing foreign
minister described as "provocative".

"Egypt has agreed to the passage of two Iranian ships through the Suez Canal," the security source told Reuters.

State TV and the official news agency subsequently reported the news,
without citing sources. An army source earlier said the Defense Ministry
was considering a request by the Iranians to allow the naval ships to
cross the strategic waterway.

A Foreign
Ministry spokesman earlier told Reuters the request had been passed to
the Defense Ministry and the Suez Canal Authority.

Egypt's military said the request had stated that the Iranian ships did
not carry military equipment or nuclear or chemical contents. It said
the two ships were currently in the Red Sea, which lies at the canal's
southern end.

"The Ministry of Defense is currently studying the request," it said in a statement read to Reuters by an army source.

The source said the ministry and the armed forces were examining whether
the ship contents matched the description in the written request and
would make the necessary security arrangements for passage should the
ships be allowed through.

To pass through the strategic waterway, naval vessels need the approval of Egypt's foreign and defense ministries.

Iranian state television said on Thursday the two warships would be the
first Iranian military vessels to transit the canal since the country's
1979 revolution.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that Iran's
plan to send the ships through the canal en route to Syria, an ally of
Tehran, was a "provocation".

Israel's state-funded Channel One television said Lieberman, a
stridently far-right partner in the conservative coalition, had spoken
out of turn and that the Defense Ministry "had preferred to ignore" the
ships' approach.

Iran's move is an unwelcome distraction for Egypt's interim military
government, which has close ties to the United States and has been
ruling since Feb. 11, when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in the
face of a popular revolt.

The canal is a vital commercial and strategic artery between Europe and
the Gulf region and Asia. It is also a major source of revenues for the
Egyptian government.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Jan. 26 that Iranian
navy cadets were going on a year-long training mission into the Red Sea
and through Suez to the Mediterranean.