US sends naval strike group as tensions rise with Iran

Andrew Cummings
May 13, 2019

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that B-52 bombers sent by the White House to the Persian Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran have arrived at a major U.S. air base in Qatar.

The presence of USS Abraham Lincoln, replacing a carrier rotated out last month, has been seen as a clear provocation by Iran's security establishment.

Others landed at an undisclosed location Wednesday in "southwest Asia", the Air Force said.

Other reports from Tehran say hundreds of demonstrators marched in the streets of downtown Tehran on Friday, expressing support for the partial withdrawal from JCPOA while chanting angry slogans against the United States and President Donald Trump.

Washington has not elaborated on the alleged threat, drawing criticism that it is overreacting and unnecessarily driving up tensions in the region.

President Trump said he is still willing to negotiate deals with Iran if they abandon their nuclear program.

In an advisory posted on Thursday, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against U.S. and partner interests.

The US-Iran escalation has put into question the future of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has re-imposed since it quit and violated the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy.

According to Mobin Saulat, the Managing Director of Inter State Gas, "Under present USA sanctions on Iran, it is impossible to execute the IP [Iran-Pakistan] gas pipeline project and we have conveyed it to them [Iran] in writing recently". "What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me". USA officials say they have detected indications that Iran could be preparing a military response.

Trump said he was ready to speak with Iranian leaders and come to an understanding that would allow the country to improve its economic prospects.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards responded, saying that Tehran would not negotiate with the United States - and a senior cleric warned that the U.S. navy fleet headed toward the Gulf could be "destroyed with one missile".

Turkey's purchase of S-400 missile defense from Russian Federation, the Palestinian issue and the Eastern Mediterranean energy resources were cited as other sources of dispute between his country and the United States. MARAD said, adding: "Reporting indicates heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against United States forces and interests".

Asked about Trump's request for talks, Ravanchi said Trump had derailed diplomacy by pulling the United States out of the nuclear agreement previous year.

Administration officials said the sanctions are created to bite Iran's economy beyond the oil sector, which provides most of the nation's wealth, and that Mr. Trump is prepared to go further if provoked.

Other reports by iNewsToday