• Iran's army chief says the Islamic republic will take action if the US aircraft carrier that recently left the Persian Gulf returned.

  • The carrier USS John C Stennis, one of the US navy's biggest vessels, left the area because of 10 days of Iranian naval exercises in which they fired a number a new missiles.

  • The US Defence Department said the passage was "routine".

  • The United States keeps at least one aircraft carrier in or near the Gulf at all times, on rotations of weeks or months. It maintains the base of its Fifth Fleet in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

  • Tensions have risen in recent days after Iran, which insists its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes, test-fired a series of missiles near the key Gulf oil supply route of the Strait of Hormuz.

  • The display of military muscle was designed to show Iran's ability to close the strait, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil flows, if it chooses.

  • The US and its allies have imposed their sanctions to punish Iran for maintaining a nuclear program they believe masks military objectives.

  • French president Nicolas Sarkozy had proposed a freezing of assets of Iran's central bank and an embargo on exports of Iranian oil, a move also being considered by the European Union.