US deploying carrier strike group, bomber task force to Middle East in response to Iranian threats
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
The United States will deploy a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran, National Security Adviser John Bolton said late Sunday.
Bolton said the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the US Central Command region was a response “to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” without specifying what they were.
“[The aim of the deployment is] 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,” Bolton said in a statement.
“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.”
The US has been reimposing sanctions on Iran since last year when US President Donald Trump decided unilaterally to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its abandonment of its nuclear weapons programme.
It has particularly been targeting Iran’s oil industry, the country’s main source of income, with serious consequences for the Iranian economy.
Last month Washington announced that any countries buying Iranian oil would face US sanctions if they continued to do so.
It also designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization, the first time that the US has used the designation for part of another government.
In retaliation Tehran has threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes which connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, sparking fears it could cause armed clashes.
The sanctions could also undermine reformist President Hassan Rowhani and other moderates’ policy of rapprochement with the West. After six years out of office, Iran’s hardliners are now hoping to make a political comeback.
Trump has been encouraged in his approach to Iran by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was strongly opposed to the 2015 deal.
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