Special Ops 'Mothership' Heads to Persian Gulf

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Recent U.S. and European sanctions against Iran have gotten tougher, but that hasn't stopped the Islamic regime's quest for nuclear weapons.

Now, the United States is ready for a new military show of force. The Pentagon is sending the USS Ponce to the Persian Gulf, where it will become a floating base for U.S. Navy SEALs.

The ship was scheduled to be retired weeks ago, but now has a new mission -- to search for mines and enemy activity.

"What it's going to be is the mother ship for special operations forces that will allow the U.S. to covertly deploy our special operations warriors to really difficult parts of the world," explained ABC News consultant and retired Col. Stephen Ganyard.

The Ponce will be equipped with cranes to extract mines. Twelve small boats can dock on the ship and there is room for four helicopters, as well as an operations command center.

In addition to deploying the Ponce, the Defense Department will ask Congress for more money to retool the military's bunker busting bombs. Experts are concerned that the 30,000- pound bombs may not have enough explosive power to destroy Iran's underground nuclear facilities.

Ganyard says the military moves aren't just window dressing.

"It's true preparation. The message is also getting through to the Mullahs and to Iran," he said.

President Barack Obama told ABC News he hopes stiff economic sanctions will cause Iran to change course.

"We've imposed the toughest trade sanctions ever. But we're not taking any options off the table," the president said.

Those options may soon come into play from either the United States or Israel, according to Middle East analyst Walid Phares.

"It's really the question -- when will the United States and their allies begin seriously stopping the Iranian regime?" he explained. "The Israelis have their own clock. If they feel that the Iranian regime has the missiles, has the delivery system, and has produced a weapon of mass destruction -- nuclear or not-- they may take action on their own."

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

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