Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan Tuesday credited the deployment of US military weaponry with preventing potential attacks by Iran or its proxies in the Middle East.
“We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans” by Iran or its allies, he told reporters at the Pentagon, according to Politico.
"I just hope Iran is listening,” Shanahan added. “We're in the region to address many things but it is not to go to a war with Iran.”
He later added that the threats from Iran and its proxies haven't been eliminated.
"There haven't been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold," he said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
Shanahan’s comments follow the US military’s deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East. US officials said the move was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
While President Donald Trump has urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program, he has also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
On Monday, Trump said that Iran would be met with "great force" if it attempted anything against US interests in the Middle East, though he stressed he was willing to have talks with Iran "when they're ready."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later said that he favors talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions.
"Today's situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only," said Rouhani.