US sending B-52s to Middle East against Iran 'threat'

Intelligence that Iran moving missiles by boat spurred US to send carrier strike group

Intelligence that Iran moving missiles by boat spurred US to send carrier strike group

The comments from the two senior defense officials were the first public comments about how new intelligence on Iran's intentions led to a decision over the weekend to send the additional military forces to the Middle East to deter Iran.

On Tuesday US Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban said they had seen 'indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region'.

Several nuclear-capable B-52s are heading to the region along with an aircraft carrier task force following what the Defense Department called 'recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces'.

A White House decision to dispatch an aircraft carrier and other military resources to send a message to Iran followed "clear indications" that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing to possibly attack USA forces in the region, a defense official told the Associated Press.

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 USA wants to send a message that 'unrelenting force" will meet any attack on US interests or those of its allies.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called for the country to "resist and unite" and accused the United States of waging a "war on hope".

U.S. officials - speaking on the condition of anonymity - said there were "multiple, credible threats" from Iran.

He believed Iran had given the green-light to Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad to fire missiles into Israel in a weekend flare-up to "create a crisis to distract the U.S. and Israel" from plots elsewhere.

However, CNN quoted unnamed officials on Monday as saying there was "specific and credible" intelligence that Iranian forces and proxies were targeting USA forces in Syria, Iraq and at sea, with "multiple threads of intelligence about multiple locations".

On Wednesday, President Trump announced new sanctions targeting Iran's steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors and vowed to continue a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Tehran until it stops supporting terror groups, ends destabilizing activities in the region, gives up any nuclear weapons efforts and ends development of ballistic missiles.

"Congress must act immediately to stop this reckless march to war before it's too late", he tweeted.

Tensions between Iran and the United States escalated over the past year after Washington withdrew from the JCPOA and reinstated sanctions against Tehran.

"I think this is manufactured by Bolton to try to justify the administration's very harsh policy toward Iran despite the fact that Iran has been complying with the nuclear deal", said Barbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council think tank. "And how might we respond?" said Shanahan. They will be stationed there as part of the last-minute deployment prompted by the new threat intelligence from Iran.

Nuclear inspectors have certified that Iran has stuck by the terms of the deal.