On Wednesday, Iran announced it would pull out of parts of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with five world powers in reaction to increasing US sanctions and military pressure on the Islamic Republic by the US army in the Middle East.
Iran’s so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani said the country would now keep enriched uranium within its own borders and warned that Iran could resume weapons-grade uranium enrichment within 60 days.
The announcement could lead to the collapse of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) since the UK has already made it clear that the move would have “consequences,” meaning re-introduction of sanctions against Iran.
That in turn, could lead to war with Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday issued a thin-veiled threat to the US when he invoked God and said the Americans would be slapped and that there would be no other option other than “to stand against the devils, tyrannies and disbelievers."
Khamenei was not only referring to the cancellation of Iranian participation in parts of the nuclear deal but also to preparations for military action against US assets in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf in particular.
The Israeli spy agency Mossad reportedly delivered intelligence to the US indicating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was preparing to attack American marine vessels and US bases in the Persian Gulf.
The Mossad warning came after the Trump Administration and media reported the US was deploying additional warships and military aircraft to the Middle East.
The US military recently deployed additional Aircraft Carrier Strike Groups, F-35 stealth fighters and B-52 bombers in the region while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid an unexpected visit to Baghdad, where he apparently delivered a warning to the Iraqi government.
On Tuesday, US Central Command spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban said they there were "indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region."
The US has warned Iraq that any attack on US forces, whether an assault by the IRGC or one of its Iraqi proxy militias, would be considered a declaration of war by the Trump Administration.
The Iran-backed predominantly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militias seem not to be deterred by the American warning and said defiantly that US military action in Iraq would lead to a general mobilization of forces.
The Trump Administration is now further upping the pressure on Iran by planning additional sanctions which will be implemented “very soon”.
"Expect more sanctions soon. Very soon," Tim Morrison, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Bio Defense said in reaction to Iran’s announcement about the JCPOA.
Several Trump officials, furthermore, revealed that the US had intelligence Iran was moving short-range missiles via ships in the Persian Gulf to other parts of the region.
It is not clear if Iran could launch those missiles from the vessels or that they were to be delivered to Iran’s proxies and allies in the Middle East, CNN reported.
The American news organization claimed that the deployment of the B-52’s and the additional aircraft carriers was related to the Iranian missiles, but that seems far fetched.
The main concern currently is that Iran will attempt to close off the Strait of Hormuz or the Bab el-Mandeb waterway at the entrance of the Red Sea.
Both waterways are of great importance because of the fact that a large part of the West’s oil supply passes through them.
The Pentagon is now considering sending additional firepower to the region to protect US forces in the event of an Iranian attack.
Tensions in the Persian Gulf peaked after a mysterious incident occurred involving a huge Iranian oil tanker.
The Iranian vessel had serious problems near the Saudi port of Jeddah in the Red Sea on April 30 after it faced “engine trouble,” according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s arch foe, later confirmed that it had received an official request from Iran’s UN delegation to assist the crew of the tanker which, according to Marine Traffic.com, was stuck near Jeddah.
The Saudis reportedly rescued the crew and are trying to prevent an ecological disaster, but it is possible that the tanker was not carrying only oil.
A crew member of the tanker, the Happiness 1, reported that the vessel was hit by a missile or that a missile on board the ship exploded, causing a hole in the engine room.
The crew member said there had been “intelligence pressure for this story not to be leaked”.
None of the crew members was willing to discuss what exactly had happened on the ship, the man wrote on Telegram.
The Happiness 1 was reportedly on its way to Syria when it was hit by the explosion.