Global

USA sends naval strike group to Middle East in ‘message’ to Iran

USA sends naval strike group to Middle East in ‘message’ to Iran

The US will send a naval strike group and led by the Abraham Lincoln carrier and a tactical bomber group to the operational zone of the US Central Command in the Middle East as a signal to the Iranian authorities.

"We sent messages to Tehran to say that we were determined to implement the agreement, that we really wanted them to stay in this agreement even though we took into account the complexity of the situation and passed on the same messages to our American allies", the French source said.

"The US routinely deploys carriers to the Gulf as a show of force meant to deter Iran", Becca Wasser, a RAND Corporation policy analyst, tweeted Sunday in response to Bolton's statement.

Hoping it would make it impossible for Iran to export petroleum, Trump announced in late April that he was ending oil waivers in the economic sanctions against Iran, which is crucial to its economy.

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that plans to deploy the strike group had been in the works for some time.

The administration blames Iran for fueling instability across the Middle East, and Bolton has been a longtime advocate of using military force against the government in Tehran.

Still, questions remain on what specific intelligence- gathering method was used, how relevant the intelligence was, and how those threats differ from the usual concern about Iranian military activity in the region.

The Abraham Lincoln and its strike group of ships and combat aircraft have recently been operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

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US armed forces are deploying to forward positions in the Middle East, standing by to address a "credible threat" from Iran.

The official said the decision to order the deployment was made on Sunday.

Navy Captain Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command, which spans the Middle east, said the threat could be land-based or maritime. He further added that the United States was not seeking to go to war with Iran but they are fully prepared to respond to any attacks.

The US announcement comes on the heels several recent events that have increased US-Iran tensions, said Nishank Motwani, a visiting fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy in Australia.

In a statement on Sunday, Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish United States policy on Iran, said the decision, which could exacerbate problems between the two countries, was meant to send a "clear and unmistakable message" of USA resolve to Tehran.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers a year ago and instead aimed at curbing the regional role of Iran, an arch-rival of USA allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. Foreign ministers representing the U.K., France, Germany and the European Union took the unusual step over the weekend of publicly criticizing the USA decision "with regret and concern", noting that Tehran continues to abide by the terms of the deal.

The relationship between the USA and Iran continues to worsen, with President Donald Trump announcing last month the United States will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil.

On April 8, Trump declared that the United States had chose to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on a list of foreign terrorist organizations.


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