This would be first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that Iranian ships have used Suez; U.S. says they are monitoring the ships and criticize Iran's 'track record' in the region.
By News Agencies
The Suez Canal. Photo by: AP
Egypt has approved the passage of two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, a source said on Friday, a move that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described as "provocative".
"Egypt has agreed to the passage of two Iranian ships through the Suez Canal," the security source told Reuters.
State TV and the official news agency subsequently reported the news, without citing sources. An army source earlier said the Defense Ministry was considering a request by the Iranians to allow the naval ships to cross the strategic waterway.
Iranian officials have said that the request is in line with international regulations.
The United States is monitoring the possible transit of the Iranian ships and does not believe Iran has behaved responsibly in the region, the White House said on Friday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, briefing reporters on an Air Force One flight from California to Oregon, said, "We're monitoring that, obviously."
"But we also would say that Iran does not have a great track record of responsible behavior in the region," he said.
It is believed to be the first time since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iranian warships are attempting to pass through the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
Iranian officials have said the two vessels, currently in international waters, are headed to Syria for training.
Egypt has been run by an army-led transition government since last week's ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising. Iran's request could pose the first diplomatic dilemma for Egypt's new rulers.
A Suez Canal official said Egypt can only deny transit through the waterway in case of war.
Earlier this week, Lieberman said Iran's attempt to send warships through the canal is a provocation.
"To my regret, the international community is not showing readiness to deal with the recurring Iranian provocations. The international community must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations," the foreign minister said.
Israel considers Iran an existential threat because of its disputed nuclear program, ballistic missile development, support for militants in the region and its threats to destroy Israel.
Israel has accused Syria and Iran in the past of paying for and smuggling weapons to the Lebanese Shi'ite group, Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006.