US warns Iran against attack with aircraft carrier in Middle East

White House adviser says any attack on US military or allies will be met with ‘unrelenting force’

Conrad Duncan
Monday 06 May 2019 14:20
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier to the Middle East following “troubling and escalatory indications” that forces in Iran were preparing an attack on US troops in the region, according to a White House official.

National security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday the decision was intended to “send a clear and unmistakable message” that any attack on US interests would be met with “unrelenting force”.

The deployment was approved after reports that US forces at sea and on land were potential targets, according to a defence official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

“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,” Mr Bolton said.

The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force have been sent to the US Central Command region, which includes the Middle East.

Mr Bolton did not provide details on the alleged attack but the statement is expected to raise tensions between the US and Iran.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment on Mr Bolton’s statement.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters that the actions by the US had been planned for some time.

“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,” he 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.”

Mr Pompeo however chose not to provide details on the allegations, but told reporters that Iran’s actions were unrelated to the recent conflict in Gaza and Israel.

The deployment is the latest example of rising tensions between the Trump administration and Iran, with Mr Bolton and Mr Pompeo being frequent critics of the country’s regime.

Last month, Donald Trump announced the US will no longer exempt major importers of Iranian oil, such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, from US sanctions if they continue to buy from the country.

The US has also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the country’s armed forces, as a terrorist group.

It was the first time the US had labelled another nation’s military as a terrorist organisation.

In response, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani named all US forces in the Middle East as terrorists and accused the US government of sponsoring terrorism.

The relationship between Tehran and Washington has been fraught since Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew last year from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions on the country.

Agencies contributed to this report

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