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U.S. says to send more troops to the Middle East, cites Iran threats

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U.S. says to send more troops to the Middle East, cites Iran threats

By Phil Stewart and Parisa Hafezi

 

2019-06-18T031232Z_1_LYNXNPEF5H05X_RTROPTP_4_USA-IRAN.JPG

Flight deck of the U.S aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is seen as sailors swip the deck for foreign object and debris (FOD) walk-down on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in Arabian Sea, May 19, 2019. Picture taken May 19, 2019. Garrett LaBarge/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

 

WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for what he said were defensive purposes, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

 

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since last Thursday when two oil tankers were attacked, which Washington has blamed on Tehran, more than a year after President Donald Trump said Washington was withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.

 

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said in a statement.

 

The new U.S. deployment to the Middle East is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May.

Washington previously tightened sanctions, ordering all countries and companies to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

 

Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to "nuclear blackmail."

 

The 2015 accord, which Iran and the other signatories have maintained following Trump's decision, caps Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium at 300 kg enriched to 3.67 percent.

 

But Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Monday: "We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment (of uranium) and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit."

 

"Iran's reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate," he told state TV, adding that "the move will be reversed once other parties fulfil their commitments."

 

The move further undermines the nuclear pact also signed by Russia, Britain, Germany, China and the European Union, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the collapse of the deal would not be in the interests of the region or the world.

 

The nuclear deal seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most international sanctions.

 

Britain said if Iran breached agreed limits, London would look at "all options." Israel, Iran's arch foe, urged world powers to step up sanctions against Tehran swiftly should it exceed the enriched uranium limit.

 

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, however, the EU would only react to any breach if the International Atomic Energy Agency formally identified one.

 

GULF TANKERS

Trump's administration has accused Iran of being behind the explosions on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital oil shipping route.

 

The United States released a video last week it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard was behind the latest attacks near the Strait of Hormuz on the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, which was set ablaze, and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous.

 

The U.S. military released additional imagery on Monday.

 

"Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine," Central Command said in a statement.

 

A U.S. defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new deployment included forces who operate the U.S. military’s airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that help detect threats and scoop up sensitive imagery and intelligence. The deployment would also involve personnel who can strengthen protection of U.S. troops already deployed to the region.

 

Iran's armed forces chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, denied on Monday that Tehran was behind the attacks and said if the Islamic Republic decided to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane, it would do so publicly.

 

The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said Tehran was responsible for security in the Gulf and urged U.S. forces to leave the region, state TV said.

 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken to officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, China, Kuwait, South Korea, Britain and other countries to share evidence of Iran's involvement in the attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese tankers, a senior State Department official said. 

 

Pompeo said on Sunday the United States did not want to go to war with Iran but would take every action necessary, including diplomacy, to guarantee safe navigation through Middle East shipping lanes.

 

The 2015 accord requires Iran to curb its uranium enrichment capacity, capping Iran’s stock of low-enriched uranium at 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.67 percent or its equivalent for 15 years. That is far below the 90 percent needed for weapons-grade uranium and also below the 20 percent level to which Iran enriched uranium before the deal.

 

A series of U.N. inspections under the deal have verified that Iran has been meeting its commitments.

 

In May, Tehran said it would reduce compliance with the nuclear pact in protest at the U.S. decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and reimpose sanctions.

 

The Trump administration says the nuclear deal, negotiated by Democratic President Barack Obama, was flawed as it is not permanent, does not address Iran's ballistic missile program and does not punish it for waging proxy wars in other Middle East countries.

 

Kamalvandi, in a news conference at Iran's Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, which has been reconfigured under the deal, said Tehran could rebuild the underground facility to make it functional. Heavy water can be employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads.

 

In January, Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, told state TV that "despite pouring concrete in pipes within the core of the Arak reactor ... Iran had purchased pipes for replacement in case the West violated the deal."

 

The United States and the IAEA believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it abandoned. Tehran denies ever having had one.

 

Iran's Rouhani said on Monday that European nations still had time to save the accord.

 

"It's a crucial moment, and France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play a historic role to save the deal in this very short time," Rouhani was quoted as saying during a meeting with France's new ambassador in Iran.

 

(Reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington, Dubai newsroom and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and William Schomberg in London, Francois Murphy in Vienna, Robin Emmott in Brussels, and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-06-18
 

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1 hour ago, meand said:

Got oil?

 

Yes. 

 

Ok you are pretty much doomed no matter what you do. 

 

Protect yourself and you are an aggressor. Sit there idly and you will be invaded in the name of "humanitarianism". 

 

US foreign policy 101 over. 

It's called full spectrum dominance. Apparently, it's essential for spreading democracy.

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Peace

That went after 9/11 , still the longest running war in modern history.

Bringing democracy to the world one death at a time

What emotional and physical to the troops involved and their communities for time immemorable.

Not to mention the financial burdens 

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This continuing love affair between the US and the Middle East simply

must stop

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2 hours ago, RJRS1301 said:

Peace

That went after 9/11 , still the longest running war in modern history.

Bringing democracy to the world one death at a time

What emotional and physical to the troops involved and their communities for time immemorable.

Not to mention the financial burdens 

Disposable  collateral damage on either side. One way of reducing unemployment?

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4 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

It is very hard for the US to learn lessons. They remind me of a very dumb school kid, who just cannot seem to remember the lesson. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Egypt. Libya. Algeria. How is the history of democracy building working out, these days Blindfold Bolton? 

 

One can only hope that war with Iran is not in the cards. Trump certainly needs a distraction from his falling poll numbers, climbing disapproval ratings, mounting legal challenges, and failed negotiations. This one could be tragic in historical proportions. Do not start a war with Iran. It could be the end of America as we know it. Between their cyber capabilities, and their willingness to spend billions on a terror war on US soil, it would be a disaster of mythic proportions. Iran is no Iraq. Their ideology and wealth make them a very dangerous adversary.  

 

"This one could be tragic in historical proportions. Do not start a war with Iran. It could be the end of America as we know it."

 

The Sky Might Fall, Says Resident Scaremonger. 

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Iraq Redux. 
"Ramping up the rhetoric" stage in progress.  Waiting for the "Remember The Maine 2.0" catalyst to a preeminent US attack.  

Live long enough, study history, and the world plays out like another Big Screen remake of Bueu Geste.  Different actors, better technology, same old plot.

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When is someone putting the Americans back into their kiddies pen? Can the Russsian and Chinese help? This madness must lead to war. Americans are provoking Syria and Iran ongoingly - it is a matter of time until they might react. If not, then the Americans start with a smoke-screen exercise like those two torpedoes tankers. The last ones who did it were the Iranians.

I am not fond of any of those Middle Eastern countries but if you get provoked all the time then you retaliate sooner or later.

Hence, again, who will put these warmongering idiots - executing on a zionist remote control - to order as long as it still can be done?

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Donald Donald don’t you think maybe a few frigates for convoy duty would be more appropriate I mean if you are really interested in protecting the flow of oil that’s what a responsible leader would do oh I forgot we are talking about Donald the one who is trying to goad Iran into a war we see what you are you are not measuring up Donald you are definitely sub par

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"Iran said on Monday it would soon breach limits on how much enriched uranium it can stockpile under the deal, which a White House National Security Council spokesman said amounted to "nuclear blackmail." "

The Trump admin withdrew from "the deal", which Iran was complying with, and as none of the other signers withdrew (Russia, China, UK, France, EU etc) then probably safe to assume Iran was in compliance.

Iran and other signatories have tried to find a work around regarding benefits to Iran in form of trade & oil in exchange for continuing with roll back of nuke program, but US has used it's economic clout to cripple that.

USA is the reason for Iran's response. Little reason for Iran to give without getting something. Would you work for free? Trump says he wants to make a nuke deal. Hey Donald, there already was one, and it worked. The honorable thing to do would be to sign back on to agreement. Trump never admits he has made mistakes, not even to Jesus.

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