‘Approved US carrier strike group, bomber strike force to Middle East due to Iran’s credible threat’: Patrick Shanahan

Washington: The United States approved a carrier strike group and a bomber strike force to the Middle East due to “indications of a credible threat” by Iran, said acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday.

“Last night’s announced deployment of the @CVN_72 and a @USAirForce bomber task force to the @CENTCOM area of responsibility, which I approved yesterday, represents a prudent repositioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.

The US on Sunday announced that it was sending USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a US Air Force bomber task force to the Middle East in response to Iran’s “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

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Urging Iran to cease its provocative activities, Shanahan said that Washington will hold Tehran “accountable” in the event of a possible attack on US forces.

“We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation. We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on US forces or our interests,” read another tweet by Shanahan.

In a statement released by the White House, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that the US was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command (CENTCOM) region in the Middle East “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.”

“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 regular Iranian forces,” Bolton was quoted as saying in the statement.

On Monday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that the deployment of military assets to the region was “something we have been working on for a little while,” adding that the US had seen “escalatory action from the Iranians.”

Ties between the US and Iran soured after Washington pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) last year. The agreement allows Iran to continue with its nuclear programme under some terms and conditions.

Following this, the US slapped a multitude of sanctions on Iran, citing the latter’s support to state-sponsored terrorism and conflicts.

Iran, on the other hand, has refused to bow down, terming US’ sanctions on Tehran’s banking, energy and shipping industries as “economic terrorism”.

Intensifying its pressure against Iran, the Donald Trump administration designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a foreign terrorist organisation, which was followed by Tehran’s similar move of labelling CENTCOM with the same designation.

Furthermore, the US in March designated an additional 31 Iranian individuals and entities “linked to Iran’s WMD proliferation-sensitive activities”.


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