Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout

Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout”

The New York Times on Monday cited senior US officials that new threats by Iran against USA troops in Iraq were behind the sudden deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf.

On Monday, Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported that Iran's President Hassan Rouhani may announce on Wednesday "counteractions against US' withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)". Iran is allowed to keep 300 kilogrammes of uranium enriched up to 3.67 per cent, far below the level needed to build nuclear weapons.

Since then, Trump has imposed numerous sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, seeking to drive Tehran's oil exports to near zero.

While visiting Finland, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran has "threatened many things over the last two years".

A statement Sunday night from US national security adviser John Bolton said the USS Abraham Lincoln, other ships in the carrier's strike group and a bomber wing would deploy to the Mideast.

The United States typically rotates an aircraft carrier in the Gulf to serve as the flagship of its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain.

"We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation", the acting Pentagon chief noted, adding "we will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on USA forces or our interests".

A spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Keivan Khosravi, also dismissed Bolton's comments as "psychological warfare".

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Meanwhile, the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency quoted "knowledgeable sources" as saying that Iran on Wednesday will announce "reciprocal actions" to the United States withdrawal from the accord.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will send a letter to EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini, detailing the technical and legal aspects of Iran's diminishing commitments to the JCPOA.

"We have mobilized all of the country's resources and are selling oil on the grey market,"said Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran's deputy oil minister, as quoted by IRNA news agency".

Iran's economy was subsequently hit by reinstated USA sanctions on its oil and financial sectors, which has pushed the value of its currency to record lows, quadrupled its annual inflation rate and driven away foreign investment.

Iran has said its development of ballistic missiles has nothing to do with its nuclear activity and is wholly defensive in nature, and that its support for allies around the Middle East is not Washington's business. It also halted waivers allowing Iran to store excess heavy water in Oman and to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russian Federation. The move also comes shortly after the U.S. labeled Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity, infuriating the hardline Islamic regime.

Why is there such hostility between the U.S. and Iran?

While neither Shanahan nor Bolton elaborated on the gist of US intelligence, other USA officials told Reuters there were "multiple, credible threats" against US forces on land, including in Iraq, by Iran and proxy forces, and at sea.

The Trump administration is sending an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East after reportedly receiving intelligence from Israel saying that Iran was allegedly planning an attack on U.S. interests in the region.

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