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Report: Iranian warships to pass through Suez on Tuesday

By the CNN Wire Staff
The frigate Alvand, pictured in 2009, is one of the two ships Iran wants to send through the Suez Canal.
The frigate Alvand, pictured in 2009, is one of the two ships Iran wants to send through the Suez Canal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Egyptian state-run media reports two Iranian ships will make the passage Tuesday
  • They are expected to be the first such ships to sail through the canal since 1979
  • The move puts Egypt's new military regime in precarious position with Israel
RELATED TOPICS
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Suez Canal

(CNN) -- Two Iranian warships will cross the Suez Canal on Tuesday, four days after Egypt's post-Hosni Mubarak government gave the green light to the passage, Egyptian state-run news website EgyNews reported Monday.

They are expected to be the first such ships to sail through the Suez since the Islamic republic's 1979 revolution.

The move puts Egypt's new military regime in a prickly position with its Israeli neighbor.

The canal is an internal body of water, and as such, Egypt has sovereignty over it. But Egypt also is bound by the 1978 Camp David Accords, which guarantee the right of free passage by ships belonging to Israel and all other nations on the basis of the Constantinople Convention of 1888. Before that, Egypt did not allow Israeli ships to sail through the canal.

This month, Egypt's newly empowered military government said it would honor all its international treaties, including Camp David.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Sunday of trying to expand its influence in the region by planning to send the warships.

Netanyahu said Israel views the crossing of the Iranian ships through the Suez Canal "gravely."

The Suez Canal is a key waterway for international trade. It connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, allowing ships to navigate between Europe and Asia without having to go around Africa.

Millions of barrels of oil move through the Suez every day en route to Europe and North America.

David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said last week that the Iranians had asked for a frigate and military supply ship to cross into the Mediterranean. Both are armed with missiles, he said, adding that their passage would create more uncertainty in the region.

Iran said earlier that the flotilla was on a yearlong intelligence-gathering and training mission to prepare cadets to defend Iran's cargo ships and oil tankers from the threat of attack by Somali pirates, according to the semiofficial Fars News Agency.

 
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