Crisis in the Arabian Gulf | World Defense

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Carrier strike force heading to the Middle East to counter Iran threats
By Nicholas Sakelaris
MAY 6, 2019

An aerial view of the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln, which are expected to meet in the Persian Gulf in response to Iranian threats. Photo by Kenneth Abbate/U.S. Navy | License Photo


May 6 (UPI) -- The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force are being deployed to the Middle East in response to threats to U.S. troops by Iran or their allies, American government officials said.

The United States is responding to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings," White House national security adviser John Bolton said. He didn't provide details but said the United States wants to send a "clear, unmistakable" message to Iran that "unrelenting force" would meet any attacks against U.S. troops or allies.

"The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the regular Iranian forces," Bolton said.

A Defense Department official told CBS News that U.S. intelligence has detected a "number of preparations for possible attack" on land and at sea.

"There is more than one avenue of attack or possible attack that we're tracking ... This has been moving pretty fast today (Sunday)," the official said.

In addition to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, the strike force includes the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and destroyers from the Destroyer Squadron 2. The group left the Naval Station Norfolk on April 1. The USS John Stennis aircraft carrier and its associated strike group has already been in the Persian Gulf since March.

Tensions with Iran have skyrocketed in the last week since the Trump administration ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian crude oil despite U.S. sanctions. That means China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey can no longer buy crude oil from Iran, putting increased pressure on Tehran.

The United States also officially designated the IRGC as a terrorist group recently, which prompted Iran to turn around and name U.S. forces as terrorists as well. It's been a year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strike force deployment has been in the works for a little while.

"It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests," Pompeo said. "If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly responsible for that."

 

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US to Deploy Carrier Strike Group to Middle East in ‘Clear Message’ to Iran
06 May, 2019


The USS Abraham Lincoln. (Getty Images)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The United States is deploying a naval strike group to the Middle East in “response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran, declared National Security Adviser John Bolton Sunday.

“The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” he added.

Bolton did not provide any further details.

The move has been ordered “as a deterrence to what has been seen as potential preparations by Iranian forces and its proxies that may indicate possible attacks on US forces in the region,” said a US official on condition of anonymity.

He added that the Washington was not expecting any imminent Iranian attack.

Though Bolton cited no specific Iranian activities that have raised new concerns, Iran has recently warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it was barred from using the strategic waterway. About a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes through the strait.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” he said in a statement.

A defense official tells The Associated Press that the Pentagon approved the deployments of the USS Abraham Lincoln and its strike group of ships and combat aircraft.

It marked the latest in a series of moves by President Donald Trump’s administration aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Iran in recent months.

Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, in an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. It has also blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, taking the unprecedented step of designating it as a foreign terrorist organization, which Iran has cast as an American provocation.

The Trump administration’s efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began last year when it unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal it and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.

The threat late last month from the IRGC to close the Strait of Hormuz followed a US announcement that it would end exemptions granted last year to eight buyers of Iranian oil and demanding they stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.

A senior Trump administration official said at the time that any aggressive move by Iran in the strait would be unjustified and unacceptable.

Iran has made threats to block the waterway in the past, without acting on them.


 

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US sending carrier to Mideast is ‘psychological warfare’: Iran
AP
May 07, 2019
  • Iran official said the US is using a burnt-out psychological warfare strategy
  • Iranian media said the US carriers arrived weeks ago in the Mediterranean
DUBAI: Iran’s security body said a US announcement of sending a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East to send a message to Tehran amounted to “psychological warfare,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency said on Tuesday.

US national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a message to Iran.

“Bolton’s statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare,” said Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the Supreme National
Security Council, according to Tasnim, adding that the carrier had arrived in the Mediterranean weeks ago.

 

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US Sending 4 Bombers to Middle East
07 May, 2019
[IMG]

The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier is being deployed to the region. (EPA)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The bomber task force the United States said it was sending to the Middle East will likely include four bombers along with personnel to fly and maintain the aircraft, US officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they would likely be B-52 aircraft and had not yet departed for the Middle East.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the Trump administration was deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran and to show the United States will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack.


US Sending 4 Bombers to Middle East
 

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US Deploys Strike Group to Middle East after ‘Credible’ Iran Threat
07 May, 2019


The USS Abraham Lincoln. (AFP)

Washington - Heba El Koudsy

The White House announced on Monday a decision to send the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and bombers to the Middle East to face Iran and its proxies in the region.

The decision was taken in response to the presence of “credible threat” by Iran, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tweeted on Monday.

The New York Times newspaper quoted three US officials citing new intelligence that Iran or its proxies were preparing to attack American troops in Iraq and Syria, leading the Pentagon to send an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf as a warning to Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that his country “continued to see activity that leads us to believe that there’s escalation that may be taking place, and so we’re taking all the appropriate actions, both from a security perspective as well as our ability to make sure the president has a wide range of options in the event that something should actually take place.”

“We will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests, and the fact that that – those actions take place, if they do, by some third-party proxy, whether that’s a Shiite militia group or the Houthis or Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranians – Iranian leadership directly accountable for that,” he told the press during a flight to Finland.

A Pentagon statement also cited Monday the presence of Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and interests in the region.

US officials told Reuters there were “multiple, credible threats” against US forces on land, including in Iraq, by Iran and proxy forces and at sea.

National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton said in a statement released on Sunday night that the US is deploying the Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on US interests or on those of Washington’s allies will be met with unrelenting force.

In early April, Washington has designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.

Several observers linked the US military move to Iran’s recent threats of closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, in response to the US decision to end sanction waivers on Iranian oil imports.


 

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Pompeo Makes Secret Trip to Baghdad amid Iran Tensions
08 May 2019
The Canadian Press
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right walks with Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department David Satterfield, left, and Charge D'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Joey Hood upon arrival in Baghdad, on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right walks with Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department David Satterfield, left, and Charge D'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Joey Hood upon arrival in Baghdad, on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

BAGHDAD — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a lightning visit Tuesday to Baghdad aimed at showing support for the Iraqi government as the United States has been picking up intelligence that Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East.

The top American diplomat's unannounced trip to the Iraqi capital began and ended after nightfall under heavy security following the abrupt cancellation of a visit to Germany.

Journalists from The Associated Press and other organizations accompanying Pompeo were not told of his new destination until his plane left for Baghdad and were not allowed to report on his whereabouts until after his plane had taken off for London.

The secretary told reporters on the flight that his meetings with Iraq's president and prime minister were intended to demonstrate U.S. support for "a sovereign, independent" Iraq, free from the influence of neighboring Iran.

Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq's need to protect Americans in their country.

"We wanted to let them know about the increased threat stream that we had seen and give them a little bit more background on that so they could ensure that they were doing all they could to provide protection for our team," he said. "They understood, too, it's important for their country."

Pompeo's visit came as the Trump administration intensified its pressure campaign against Iran. The U.S. said this week that it was rushing an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East to deter or respond to any Iranian attack.

U.S. officials have said there were indications Iran was planning to retaliate for the Trump administration's stepped-up sanctions on the country, although the threat information remains vague.

Pompeo would not be specific about the more recent threat information involving Iran except that they involved "imminent" plans for attacks. "We're taking every action to deter them," he said. "Other than that, I just can't say any more."

Before landing in Baghdad he said that that he would make clear in his meetings that any attack by Iran or its proxies on American forces in Iraq would affect the Iraqi government too.

The "campaign to continue to prevent ISIS terror inside of Iraq itself is something that's very central ... to the Iraqi government," Pompeo said.

In Washington, an American official said the decision to deploy the carrier group and a group of Air Force bombers to the Middle East was based in part on intelligence indications that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.

Iran, meanwhile, was expected to announced Wednesday that it would partially withdraw from the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015.
As tensions rise between Washington and Tehran, Baghdad in some ways is caught in the middle. Iraq has a close relationship with the U.S., which is leading the international coalition in the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. More than 5,000 U.S. troops are stationed on Iraqi soil.

But Iraq is also tightly enmeshed with Iran in trade, security and political matters, and it has been loath to antagonize its larger neighbour. Iran won the ear of many top Iraqi politicians after it stepped in to fill the political vacuum following the 2003 U.S. invasion. It also can count on the loyalty of several powerful Iraqi militias, which have fought previously against U.S. forces in the country and on the side of Iran's allies in Syria in that country's civil war.

Responding to a question about whether Iraq could protect U.S. interests from attacks by Iran and its proxy forces, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Tuesday that Iraq takes its responsibilities seriously. "This is an obligation that Iraq honours," he said.

The Trump administration has made several recent moves to squeeze Iran. Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil. The U.S. also designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first time it has ever taken such a step for an entire division of another government.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reinstated punishing sanctions, including those targeting Iran's oil, shipping and banking sectors.

While Trump has sought to dismantle much of President Barack Obama's policies, he particularly criticized the Iran nuclear deal for failing to address Tehran's ballistic missile program and what he described as its malign influence across the rest of the Mideast.
___
Associated Press writer Philip Issa in Baghdad contributed to this report.

 

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Iran moving ballistic missiles by boat, US officials say

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
May 08, 2019

[IMG]

Washington(CNN)Intelligence showing that Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles aboard boats in the Persian Gulf was one of the critical reasons the US decided to move an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region, according to several US officials with direct knowledge of the situation.

The concerns over the movement of the missiles was one of multiple threads of intelligence from various sources that led the US to believe Iran had a capability and intention to launch strikes against US targets.

On Tuesday US Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban said they had seen "indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region."
'Specific, credible' Iran threat against US forces triggered carrier deployment, sources say

It's not clear if the Iran could launch the missiles from the boats or if they are transporting them to be used by Iranian forces on land.

The Pentagon is considering sending additional firepower to the region including anti-missile defense systems, the officials said.

The US could send Patriot missile batteries back to the region months after the US had brought some back home. No final decision on additional deployments have been made but the officials made clear if the Iranians were to pull back, the batteries might not be needed.

The Pentagon currently believes Iran's actions could put US and coalition forces at risk in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. US military and intelligence officials are monitoring the movement of the Iranian missiles around the clock but have yet to see a pullback.
Pompeo abruptly cancels trip to Germany
The new maritime threat is also causing concern that Iranian-backed forces in Yemen could also move to threaten transit in the Red Sea. The US is not ruling out the possibility that Iran will strike US troop locations in Iraq and Syria, although Iran has been an ongoing threat there for some time.

The US strategy has been to make very public announcements about the carrier and bombers in hope of deterring Iran from any action.
Iran moving ballistic missiles by boat, US officials say
 

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Iran threatening to block the most vital strait in the world and the mullah thinks he can go away with it. The first country to attack Iran if it did go with blocking the strait would be China. Then comes Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US. France and the UK. How would Iran react to such attack? Entire Iran will get sinked in matter of few hours. Iran has no modern air force, no modern land forces, outdated navy and no air defense system to stop waves of attack.

Address people in the language they can understand. :)
 

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Iran threatening to block the most vital strait in the world and the mullah thinks he can go away with it. The first country to attack Iran if it did go with blocking the strait would be China. Then comes Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US. France and the UK. How would Iran react to such attack? Entire Iran will get sinked in matter of few hours. Iran has no modern air force, no modern land forces, outdated navy and no air defense system to stop waves of attack.

Address people in the language they can understand. :)
Care to guess, what Velayat e Faqih Mullahs are high on?
 

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US carrier to deter Iran passes through Suez Canal

Reuters
May 09, 2019

CAIRO: The US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by President Donald Trump’s administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday, the Suez Canal Authority said.

The deployment of the carrier strike group is meant to show the United States will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack, national security
adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.

Iran has dismissed announcement of a US aircraft carrier deployment as old news, recycled for psychological warfare.

 

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US Carrier, Bombers Arrive in Middle East to Deter Iran

May 09, 2019
by Carla Babb
FILE - The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Atlantic Ocean during a strait transit exercise, Jan. 30, 2019.

FILE - The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Atlantic Ocean during a strait transit exercise, Jan. 30, 2019.

PENTAGON —
The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and four B-52 bombers have arrived in the Middle East in response to concerns Iran may be planning an attack against American targets.

The carrier strike group completed its transit Thursday through the Suez Canal, U.S. Central Command spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban told VOA. He said two B-52 bombers arrived in the region Thursday, while two others arrived Wednesday.

The bombers are now at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a defense official confirmed on condition of anonymity.

The request for more military assets in the Middle East was "in direct response to a number of troubling and escalatory indicators and warnings" from Iran, CENTCOM commander Marine Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie Jr. said Wednesday in Washington.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told VOA the swift military movement "sends a message that we can face any threat at a time and place of our choosing."

The American military arrived in the Middle East as European leaders denounced threats from Iran to stop curbing its nuclear program, a move that would breach a landmark global agreement.
FILE - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is pictured speaking during a ceremony commemorating National Day of Nuclear Technology, in Tehran, April 9, 2019.

FILE - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is pictured speaking during a ceremony commemorating "National Day of Nuclear Technology," in Tehran, April 9, 2019.

Hours before new sanctions were imposed Wednesday by the United States, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would enrich uranium beyond allowable limits if world powers didn't protect Iran from the sanctions within 60 days.

"We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran's compliance on the basis of Iran's performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments," the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said Thursday in a joint statement.

The European leaders also said they wanted to preserve the 2015 agreement, which requires Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the elimination of sanctions. The deal was signed by China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the U.S. and the EU. The U.S. abandoned the agreement one year ago.
Despite the U.S. withdrawal, President Donald Trump introduced new sanctions Wednesday on Iranian metal exports, major sources of revenue for the country. The U.S. had previously slapped sanctions on Iranian oil, which have devastated its economy.

The sanctions have created a quandary for Washington's European allies, which have said they share concerns about Iran's behavior but believe Trump's strategy will most likely backfire.

The allied nations are also opposed to Trump's abandonment of the nuclear pact, contending it emboldens Iranian hard-liners and undermines pragmatists who want to ease the country's isolationist approach.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacted to the European leaders on Twitter:


Javad Zarif
✔@JZarif


EU statement today is why JCPOA is where it is: the US has bullied Europe—and rest of world—for a year and EU can only express “regret”.
Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations - incl normalization of economic ties.
2,628
7:37 PM - May 9, 2019





FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran, Feb. 13, 2019.

FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran, Feb. 13, 2019.

Earlier Thursday, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said Tehran's goal was to bring the agreement "back on track." But Tehran has also said it will leave the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, unless it gets more economic support.

 

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U.S. B-52 Bombers Arrive In Qatar To Counter Unspecified Threat From Iran
May 10, 2019
A B-52H Stratofortress bomber (file photo)

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber (file photo)

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that B-52 bombers sent by the White House to the Persian Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran have arrived at a major U.S. air base in Qatar.

Images released by the U.S. Air Force's Central Command on May 10 show B-52H Stratofortress bombers arriving at the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar late on May 9.

Others landed on May 8 at an undisclosed location in "southwest Asia," the Air Force said.

In the past, the U.S. military has described its presence at both the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and Al-Udeid as "southwest Asia."

On May 5, the White House announced it would send the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and the bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter Tehran.

The U.S. aircraft carrier on May 9 passed through the Suez Canal on its way to the Persian Gulf.

President Donald Trump’s administration has not offered specific details of the threat allegedly presented by Iran.

Iran announced on May 8 that it would begin backing away from its obligations under a nuclear deal with world powers, a year after Trump pulled the United States from the accord.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

 

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B-52s, Marine expeditionary unit head to Middle East as tensions rise with Iran
The additional B-52s, as well as additional U.S. Navy vessels and Marines, have been sent there after "credible threats" suggest Iran is planing to attack American forces and interests in the region.
By Allen Cone
MAY 10, 2019

A B-52 Stratofortress deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana lands on the flightline in support of U.S. Strategic Command’s Bomber Task Force in Europe at RAF Fairford, Britain on March 14. The Pentagon has deployed four of the bombers to Iran amid rising tensions. Photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick/U.S. Air Force


May 10 (UPI) -- The Defense Department has dispatched two more B-52s and a Marine expeditionary unit to the Middle East amid growing tensions with Iran.

The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was deployed this week in response to what Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee Wednesday was "very, very credible" intelligence that Iran was preparing to attack U.S. forces or interests in the region

Tensions have further increased after Iran announced this week plans to withdraw from parts of the 2015 nuclear deal this week, one year after the U.S. left the agreement.

The two B-52s were sent to U.S. Central Command in Qatar from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana. Two had already been sent to CENTCOM from Barksdale's 20th Bomb Squadron, with support from two KC-10s, from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The Stratofortresses touched down Thursday evening local time, Air Force Magazine reported.

Cent Comm posted on Twitter the "Bomber Task Force is deployed here to defend American forces and interests in the region."

The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike force includes the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and destroyers from Destroyer Squadron 2.

The group left Naval Station Norfolk on April 1. The USS John Stennis aircraft carrier and its associated strike group has already been in the Persian Gulf since March.

The Lincoln strike group left the Mediterranean and transited the Suez Canal on Thursday, officially entering U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. Central Command.

Also this week, the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit transited the Strait of Hormuz.
The Strait of Hormuz is a key waterway that feeds into the Persian Gulf, separating Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is a major transportation route for oil tankers and military hardware.

"U.S. Central Command requested the additional forces to protect U.S. forces and interests in the region and to deter any aggression," Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a CENTCOM spokesman, said Tuesday in reference to the bomber task force and aircraft carrier group, but not the Kearsarge and its Marines.

Urban said the possible attacks from Iran include "threats on land and in the maritime," adding "we are not going to be able to provide detailed information on specific threats at this time."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the United States does not want to go to war with Iran but will retaliate if the country attacks American citizens or interests.

"The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against U.S. interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive U.S. response," he said in a statement.

President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that his administration had information Iran was "threatening" the United States.

"We have information that you don't want to know about," Trump said. But he added that "we don't want to have to do anything."
NBC News reported that the specific threats include possible missile attacks by small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf; attacks in Iraq by Iranian-trained Shiite militia and attacks against U.S. ships by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

"Let me be perfectly clear as I reinforce this point: The long-term, enduring, most significant threat to stability in the CENTCOM AOR is Iran and the Iranian regime's malign, hegemonistic ambitions across the theater and, indeed, globally," CENTCOM commander Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie said at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies event in Washington on Wednesday.

But Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht, told NBC News on Thursday his nation has not approved allowing its its proxies to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East, accusing U.S. officials of employing "fake intelligence."

Shanahan told lawmakers that U.S. officials received the intelligence one week ago Friday and decided last weekend to deploy the additional forces as a message to Iran that the U.S. would respond to any attack with force.

 

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Exclusive: Eyeing Iran, U.S. sending more Patriot missiles to Middle East

MAY 10, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday, in the latest U.S. response to what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.

The decision comes after the Trump administration expedited the deployment of a carrier strike group and sent bombers to the Middle East following troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...uters/worldNews+(Reuters+World+News)&&rpc=401
 

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Iran Guards reject U.S. talks, cleric threatens carrier
May 10, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Friday Tehran would not negotiate with the United States and a senior cleric warned that a U.S. Navy fleet could be “destroyed with one missile”, as a U.S aircraft carrier headed toward the Gulf.

The comments by hardliners appeared partly aimed at discouraging President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate allies in Tehran from taking up an offer of talks from Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leaders to sit down and talk with him about giving up their nuclear program, and said he could not rule out a military confrontation, given the heightened tensions.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday.

American B-52 bombers have also arrived at a U.S. base in Qatar, U.S. Central Command said.

Iran has dismissed both moves as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: “Their billion(-dollar) fleet can be destroyed with one missile.

“If they attempt any move, they will ... (face) dozens of missiles because at that time (government) officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” he said.

Tabatabai-Nejad represents Supreme Leader Khamenei, widely seen to be closer to hardliners than to Rouhani, in Isfahan.

Separately, Yadollah Javani, the elite Revolutionary Guards’ deputy head for political affairs, said: “No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us.”

“Our nation ... sees America as unreliable,” he said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“SANCTIONS HAVE NO EFFECT!”
Thousands of Iranians took part in state-sponsored marches on Friday to show support for the government’s decision to scale back curbs on its nuclear program agreed under a 2015 deal with world powers. Iran has threatened to go further if other signatories fail to shield it from U.S. economic sanctions.

State TV showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.

“America should know, sanctions have no effect!” chanted the protesters.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Richard Moore, a visiting British Foreign Office official, that “Europe should not underestimate Iran’s determination to scale back its commitments (under the 2015 deal) phase-by-phase”, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Trump, who last year pulled Washington out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, has expressed a willingness to meet Iranian leaders in the past, and renewed it on Thursday.

Asked about Trump’s comments, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said Tehran had been talking with the six powers, including the United States, within the framework of the nuclear deal.

“All of a sudden he (Trump) decided to leave the negotiating table ... What is the guarantee that he will not renege again?”, Takht Ravanchi said in a U.S. television interview.

He dismissed U.S. allegations of an Iranian threat as “fake intelligence”.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pieces of intelligence that were causing concern included information that Iran had installed missiles on boats. One of the officials said the particular missile observed was perhaps capable of being launched from a small ship.

The media officer at Al Udaid air base, near Doha, Qatar, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the arrival of the B-52 bombers.

U.S. Central Command is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey

 

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