US move to deploy aircraft carrier and bombers is 'psychological warfare': Iran
Iran's top security body dismissed as "psychological warfare" a US announcement that a carrier strike group and bombers are being sent to the Middle East as a message to Tehran, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported yesterday.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.
"Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of a burnt-out happening for psychological warfare," Tasnim quoted Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council, as saying. Mr Khosravi said the carrier had arrived in the Mediterranean weeks ago.
US acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had approved dispatching the carrier strike group and bombers due to indications of a "credible threat by Iranian regime forces". He provided no details of the underlying intelligence.
Iran's state-run Press TV earlier said: "The deployment seems to be a 'regularly scheduled' one by the US navy, and Bolton has just tried to talk it up."
Separately, a military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States was "neither willing nor capable" with respect to an attack on Iran, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehgan said Washington would have a hard time convincing world opinion and regional countries to accept an all-out war against Iran, and to mobilise resources for such a conflict.
Iranian newspapers and commentators have widely dismissed Washington's announcement as a "bluff" and "empty rhetoric".
Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, abruptly cancelled talks with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, yesterday over "international security issues".
Mr Pompeo had been due to meet Mrs Merkel and Heiko Maas, his German counterpart, in Berlin for talks on Ukraine, Russia, China, Syria and the western Balkans.
But just hours beforehand, a US spokesman said the meeting had been scrapped due to scheduling reasons. German government sources later said the US had cited "international security issues" behind the decision.
There were unconfirmed media reports last night that Mr Pompeo was headed for Iraq, the possible trip coming two days after the Pentagon announced that it had deployed the aircraft carrier strike group and a fleet of bombers to the Middle East.
Norbert Roettgen, the German parliamentary foreign affairs committee chairman, said that "even if the reasons for the rejection are unavoidable, it unfortunately fits in with the current climate in the relationship between the two governments".
Reporters travelling with the secretary of state were kept in the dark over their ultimate destination.