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US aircraft carrier moves toward Persian Gulf in statement to Iran

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Iran had threatened to close Strait of Hormuz to all traffic

In this handout from the U.S. Navy, aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) (center) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. The USS John C Stennis is en route to the Persian Gulf. (Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

The United States is sending the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis to the Persian Gulf. This comes shortly after Iran had threatened to close off the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial point of access for oil tankers trying to reach the Gulf.

Here's what we know

In November, the Trump administration announced that it would be reimposing all the sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the Obama administration. The U.S. is also strongly encouraging all its trading partners to follow suit.

Announcing those sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Iran would have "zero oil revenue" once they were implemented.

"Let me say that again," Pompeo said. "Zero. One hundred percent of the revenue that Iran receives from the sale of crude oil will be held in foreign accounts and can be used by Iran only for humanitarian trade or bilateral trade in non-sanctioned goods and services."

On Saturday, Iran launched the most state of the art destroyer it had ever built, dubbed the Sahand.

“This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy... and has been built with stealth capabilities," Iranian Rear Admiral Alireza Sheikhi told a state news agency, according to the Jerusalem Post.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that if Iran wasn't allowed to export oil, his country could potentially block the Strait of Hormuz to all traffic. Currently about one third of all oil that's shipped by sea passes through that strait.

“If someday, the United States decides to block Iran's oil (exports), no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf," Rouhani said on state TV, as reported by the Washington Post.

What is the U.S. response?

In response to this, the U.S. has moved the USS John C Stennis to the gulf. It's scheduled to reach international waters near Iran by the end of this week, along with some U.S. support ships.

The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed U.S. officials who said that the move was meant “to exhibit a show of force against Iran."

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