Despite intensifying sanctions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toured a nuclear facility, a clear sign to the world that Tehran has no plans to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon.
The Iranian president staged a grand photo op, loading fuel rods into a nuclear reactor north of Tehran. His appearance at the reactor comes just a day after an Iranian terrorist lost his legs in a failed bombing attempt against Israelis in Thailand, and two days after a bombing attack on an Israeli diplomat's wife in India.
**Will gas prices rise as a result of the mounting tensions with Iran? What if more sanctions don't work? CBN News Reporter John Waage has more, following this report.
Israeli leaders are trying to alert the world this week that they won't tolerate the mullahs' threat to wipe their country off the map.
They would like to revive the Persian Empire. They would like to change the type of the regimes in the Middle East," Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said.
"They would like to take control of the oil fields in the Middle East and to have a nuclear bomb," Shalom said. "By that they believe that they will be once again a major superpower in the world."
Washington knows Israel's patience for Iran's nuclear development is on a short fuse. The growing pressure is one reason why the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz Tuesday despite warnings by Iran that it would shut down the shipping lanes if the U.S. tried to protect them.
The U.S. Navy commander in the Persian Gulf had his own blunt warning for Iran's leaders.
"Let me put it this way: We are very prepared and we have, we've developed very precise and lethal weapons that are very effective," Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet.
But before any military action, the United States and Europe may try to evict Iran from the Swift Banking System, a clearinghouse crucial to selling oil. An eviction would be the ultimate sanction on the nation and one that could cause oil prices to skyrocket.
Iran has already cut oil supplies to six European countries: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, and Portugal - a preemptive payback for possible expulsion from the Swift system.
Iran Boats Shadow US Carrier
Meanwhile, Iran continues to threaten retaliation by closing the Strait of Hormuz. Its military shadowed an American strike group as they moved through the strait Tuesday.
"We had some Iranian interactions. We had one of their ships come out and observe us before we went through the 'knuckle,'" reported Troy Shoemaker, commander of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Force.
"We had a helicopter, an Iranian helicopter, that observed us as we were approaching the trans-separation scheme," he recalled.
"And then on the backside of the trans-separation scheme, we had another aircraft, a maritime patrol aircraft, that came by the formation and observed us, and one final ship that never got closer than about six nautical miles away," the strike force commander continued.
"But I think was expecting to kind of survey us on the backside," he said.
There were, however, no incidents. The passage displayed U.S. naval power even amid heightened tensions with Tehran.