Tuesday 21 May 2019

US deploys aircraft carrier to send message to Iran

National security advisor John Bolton said the US will use ‘unrelenting force’ if threatened.

The US is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to an area that includes the Middle East (Kaitlin McKeown/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)
The US is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to an area that includes the Middle East (Kaitlin McKeown/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)

By Robert Burns and Catherine Lucey, Associated Press

A White House decision to dispatch an aircraft carrier  to send a message to Iran followed “clear indications” that Iranian forces were preparing to possibly attack US forces in the region, a defence official told the Associated Press.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said that the Pentagon approved the deployments.

They added that US forces at sea and on land were thought to be the potential targets.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement Sunday night that the US is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region, an area that includes the Middle East.

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National security adviser John Bolton said the US will use ‘unrelenting force’ if threatened (AP/Evan Vucci)

Bolton said the move was in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

He didn’t provide details, but said the US wants to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on US interests or those of its allies.

“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,” he said.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment on the Bolton statement.

The Abraham Lincoln and its strike group of ships and combat aircraft have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea recently.

Last Wednesday a group of senior Albanian government officials visited aboard the Lincoln as it sailed in the Adriatic.

Bolton’s reference to the Central Command area would mean the Lincoln is headed east to the Red Sea and perhaps then to the Arabian Sea or the Persian Gulf.

It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the actions undertaken by the US had been in the works for a little while.

“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said.

“If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

The Trump administration has been intensifying a pressure campaign against Iran.

Last month, President Donald Trump announced the US will no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and US treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The US also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first ever for an entire division of another government.

Press Association

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