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Iran Reportedly Deploys New Missiles

Associated Press

Iran has begun to place its Chinese-made Silkworm anti-ship missiles on launchers at the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the southern entrance to the Persian Gulf, marine salvage executives said over the weekend.

The missiles reportedly were test-fired in the area in February, but the gulf-based salvage executives, who insisted on anonymity, said some were installed on launchers Friday, making them fully operational.

A U.S. government official in Washington who is involved in Middle Eastern affairs said that according to information available to him as of Friday, the Silkworms were “not operationally deployed.”

“I would be very cautious about reporting that the missiles have been deployed,” said the official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.

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Last month, White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. warned that the United States would consider deployment of the missiles to be a hostile act that would “run the risk of retaliation.” However, he declined to say whether a preemptive attack on the missile sites was being considered.

The salvage executives said they were told of the deployment by their radio monitors, who listen for developments in gulf waters and have tugboats standing by for salvage operations if ships are attacked by Iranian or Iraqi forces.


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