Cuba Calls the Presence of US Nuclear-Powered Submarine at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base a Provocation

HAVANA (AP).- Cuban officials on Tuesday called the presence at Guantanamo of a U.S. submarine with nuclear power for several days during the week a provocative escalation,' while a U.S. government official claimed that the vessel was making a logistical stop at a U.S. facility on its way to a maritime exercise.

Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement stating that the submarine was based at the U.S. Naval base on the island between July 5 and July 8. The statement did not provide any further details.

The statement from the Foreign Ministry said that 'This is a provocative escalation on the part of the United States whose political and strategic motives are not known'.

The U.S. State Department has said that it will not discuss the movement of U.S. Military assets.

Unnamed U.S. Defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details of an operation, confirmed that the Navy sub made a planned logistics stop at Guantanamo. The submarine then headed south to take part in UNITAS, which is the longest-running multinational naval exercise in history.

Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the State Department, said: 'Today marks the anniversary of two years since the Cubans protested on July 11, demanding their human rights and the Cuban government repressively responded.' The Cuban government's attempts to divert attention from this important day are transparent and ridiculous.

The 11th of July street protests in Cuba were the largest at least since a quarter-century ago when Fidel Castro, then president of Cuba, personally went out into the streets and calmed thousands of angry Cubans who were furious about the dire shortages which gripped the island after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Many protesters were angry about long lines, shortages of medicine and food as well as frequent power outages. Cuba's government said the protests were a U.S.-backed effort to subvert peace and security, and hundreds of people were arrested.

Cuba's Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that 33 Latin American countries signed an agreement to become a "Zone of Peace" and warned of the dangers posed by nuclear submarines of US armed forces present in the Caribbean region.

Cuba has repeatedly demanded the return of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo.