May 10, 2002
The Australian navy told the press on 10 May that the amphibious transport ship HMAS Manoora, while on a 6 May patrol in the Gulf, was challenged and threatened by an Iranian coast guard vessel. The Manoora is part of Australia's on-going commitment to the international efforts enforcing UN Resolution 986 (which prohibits Iraq exporting anything but an agreed-upon quota of oil).
The interception force is restricted to international waters, but during operations during the first week of May, the Iranian coast guard accused the Manoora of straying into Iranian territory. The Australian ship's commander insisted that he was in an area recognized as international territory. No further details were available.
During an exclusive interview on Jerusalem Post Radio's that same day, MK Yuval Steinitz (chairman of Israel's Knesset subcommittee for defense planning and policy) claimed that Iraq and Iran may initiate a partial or full-scale war against Israel in the coming months, in order to scuttle an anticipated US attack on Baghdad.
One indicator as to why Iran might have moved it's I-Hawks to positions around it's nuclear power plant was contained in a 2 May Tehran Bonyan report. Alireza Haqiqi noted that Americans' positions and tone, as well as increased restrictions and pressures against Iran, indicated to Tehran that they were gradually being made a Pentagon strike.
A joint news conference in Washington on 9 May defused some of the tension over Iran. Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's nuclear agency, and America's Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, claimed that progress had been made in easing U.S. concerns about Russian involvement in Iran's nuclear power plant. Rumyantsev reiterated that the reactor was "not a source of proliferation of nuclear material". - Adam Geibel