The United States is deploying a Patriot missile battery and another warship to the Middle East to counter what it claims are growing threats from Iran.
The USS Arlington, an amphibious transport ship, and a Patriot air defense system will be deployed to US Central Command.
“The United States is not seeking to enter into conflict with Iran, but we are positioned and ready to defend American forces and interests in the region,” the defense ministry said in a statement on Friday announcing the movements.
National Security Advisor John Bolton said last Sunday that the United States was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force to the region to send a “clear and unequivocal message” to Tehran. The Pentagon said the latest deployment followed that initial request.
The decision to send additional military forces to the Middle East was based in part on intelligence that the Iranian regime has told some of its proxy and surrogate forces that they can now attack military personnel and assets. Americans in the region, three US officials familiar with the intelligence told NBC News.
The three officials said that in addition to learning that an Iranian official had discussed the attacks on the Americans, the United States began to see the movement of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces in various places in the region. , prompting the commander of the US Central Command, the General of the Marine Corps. Frank McKenzie, to request the relocation of additional forces to the region.
The Pentagon statement on Friday said the new deployment was “in response to indications of increased Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.”
The attack group deployed earlier in the week consists of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier; the USS Leyte Gulf, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser; Carrier Air Wing Seven; and destroyers from Destroyer Squadron Two.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan tweeted on Monday calling on the Iranians to “cease all provocation”, warning that the United States “will hold the Iranian regime responsible for any attack against American forces or our interests”.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations denied that Tehran had given its proxies the green light to attack US forces.
In an exclusivity maintenance with NBC News on Thursday, Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi rejected claims by the Trump administration that Tehran posed increased danger to US interests and accused US officials of using “false intelligence”.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was ready to meet with Iranian leaders and reach a deal that would allow the country to improve its economic outlook.
“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like them to call me,” he said.
Trump added, “I look forward to the day when we can actually help Iran. We are not seeking to harm Iran.”
Amid mounting pressure from Washington, Iran informed ambassadors from the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia on Wednesday that it would stop implementing parts of the landmark nuclear deal. from 2015.
In a speech broadcast on national television on the anniversary of the US withdrawal from the agreement, President Hassan Rouhani said the country would also resume high-level uranium enrichment if world powers did not hold back. not their promises under the Obama-era deal.
The Trump administration has previously acknowledged that Iran is sticking to the deal, but claims it has also given the Islamic Republic cover to continue its ballistic weapons program and deepen its regional influence.
Washington subsequently reinstated crippling sanctions against Iran, exacerbating a severe economic crisis.
Mosheh wins, Courtney kube and Andrea Mitchell contributed.