U.S. says Iran threats are 'on hold' after deploying bombers

Elias Hubbard
May 22, 2019

The US recently increased its military presence in the Middle East, sending an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf and reportedly deploying a regiment of B-52 bombers to the region amid growing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

"I think our steps were very prudent and we've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important, " Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon, without providing any specific information as to what they were.

But he cautioned that any threats by Iran or Iranian-back militias haven't been eradicated.

"That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away", he said.

Shanahan, who was named Acting Defense Secretary to replace James Mattis after he resigned, reportedly met with Congressional officials alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He said the US' decision to counter possible threats gave the "Iranians time to recalculate".

Shanahan's statements come amid heated verbal exchanges between US President Donald Trump and Iranian officials.

Rhetoric between Tehran and Washington has escalated in recent weeks as the United States tightened sanctions with what it said was the goal of pushing Iran to make concessions beyond the terms of a 2015 multinational deal to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"I just hope Iran is listening".

While Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that they are responsible for recent tensions and said that they prefer diplomacy to threats, Shanahan on Tuesday was certain that Tehran's risky behavior had only been curbed by the US's proactive measures.

The acting defence secretary expressed hope that "Iran is listening" and understands the motive behind the recent American actions, going on to explain that the USA is not going to war with Tehran, but that its moves have been aimed at addressing regional issues.

U.S. government sources told Reuters last week they believe Iran encouraged Houthi militants or Iraq-based Shi'ite militias to carry out attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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