The United States is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a clear message to Iran that any attack on US interests or its allies will be met with “unrelenting force,” US national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday, according to Reuters.
Amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, Bolton said the decision was “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”
“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,” he added.
Tensions have risen between the US and Iran over the past year, after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The US has since imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in early November. Those sanctions aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero in a bid to curb the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional influence.
In addition, Trump recently designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
In response, an angry Iran passed a bill labeling US forces in the Middle East as terrorists.
In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Recently, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatened US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, as well as US aircraft carriers in the Gulf. These bases, he said, are within range of Iranian missiles which have a range of 700 km (450 miles).