US ship rescues six more Iranians: Pentagon
AFP, Tuesday 10 Jan 2012
One week after US Navy saves Iranian sailors from pirates, Pentagon announces rescue of 6 more Iranian mariners from damaged vessel

A US ship on Tuesday rescued six Iranian mariners in the Gulf ‎after their vessel broke down, the Pentagon said, in the latest ‎such gesture to come despite soaring tensions between ‎Washington and Tehran.‎

The Iranian crew, stuck before sunrise some 50 nautical miles ‎‎(90 kilometres) southeast of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, used ‎flares to seek help from the passing US Coast Guard cutter ‎Monomoy, according to the Pentagon.‎

The Iranian ship's master "requested assistance from the cutter ‎indicating that the engine room was flooding and (the vessel ‎was) not seaworthy," Pentagon spokesman George Little told ‎reporters.‎

At least one of the Iranians suffered burns from a fire onboard ‎the troubled ship and was receiving treatment from the US Coast ‎Guard, Little said.‎

Pentagon officials said that the United States would repatriate ‎the Iranians, although it has not yet been determined when or ‎how.‎

The United States says that its forces routinely rescue sailors in ‎distress regardless of nationality, but officials have been eager ‎to highlight efforts to assist Iranians amid Tehran's threats to ‎close the crucial Strait of Hormuz.‎

Iran's threat – which analysts say it may not be able to carry out ‎‎– came as the United States expanded sanctions against the ‎Islamic republic and the European Union considers a total ban ‎on oil exports from Tehran.‎

Last week, the US Navy rescued 13 Iranians held by pirates. ‎Iran welcomed the gesture, despite its opposition to US forces in ‎the area.‎

Western powers have been seeking to increase pressure on ‎Iran due to fears it is developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its ‎uranium enrichment is solely for peaceful purposes.‎