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U.S. bomber mission over Persian Gulf aimed at cautioning Iran


#Iran, however, has appeared wary of #Trump’s intentions in his final weeks in office, given his focus on pressuring #Tehran with sanctions and other moves that have further damaged the #Islamic #Republic’s economy.

“Trump will bear full responsibility for any adventurism on his way out,” #Iran’s foreign minister, #Javad #Zarif, wrote on #Twitter #Dec. 24.

#Adding to the tension was a #Dec. 20 rocket attack on the U.S. #Embassy compound in #Baghdad by #Iranian-supported #Shiite militia groups. #No one was killed, but the volume of rockets fired — possibly 21, with about nine landing on the #Embassy compound — was unusually large. #Days later, #Trump tweeted that #Iran was on notice.

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“Some friendly health advice to #Iran: #If one #American is killed, I will hold #Iran responsible. #Think it over,” #Trump wrote on #Dec. 23. #He added, ”#We hear chatter of additional attacks against #Americans in #Iraq.”

#Because of the potential for escalation that could lead to a wider war, the U.S. has sought to deter #Iran from additional attacks. #Strategic calculations on both sides are further complicated by the political transition in #Washington to a #Biden administration that may seek new paths to dealing with #Iran. #Biden has said, for example, that he hopes to return the U.S. to a 2015 agreement with world powers in which #Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

#In announcing #Wednesday’s bomber flight, the head of U.S. #Central #Command said it was a defensive move.

“The #United #States continues to deploy combat-ready capabilities into the U.S. #Central #Command area of responsibility to deter any potential adversary, and make clear that we are ready and able to respond to any aggression directed at #Americans or our interests,” said #Gen. #Frank #McKenzie, the commander of #Central #Command. “We do not seek conflict, but no one should underestimate our ability to defend our forces or to act decisively in response to any attack.”

#He did not mention #Iran by name.

#In advance of the announcement, the senior U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said that U.S. intelligence has detected recent signs of “fairly substantive threats” from #Iran, and that included planning for possible rocket attacks against U.S. interests in #Iraq in connection with the one-year anniversary of the #Soleimani killing.

The U.S. is in the process of reducing its troop presence in #Iraq from 3,000 to about 2,500. #Trump ordered that the reduction be achieved by #Jan. 15; officials say it is likely to be reached as early as next week.

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The #United #States also has picked up signs that #Iran may be considering or planning “more complex” and broader attacks against #American targets or interests in the #Middle #East, the senior U.S. military officer said, adding that it represented the most concerning signs since the days immediately following the #Soleimani killing. The officer cited indications that advanced weaponry has been flowing from #Iran into #Iraq recently and that #Shiite militia leaders in #Iraq may have met with officers of #Iran’s #Quds force, previously commanded by #Soleimani.

The U.S. officer said #Iran might have its eye on economic targets, noting the #September 2019 missile and drone attack on #Saudi oil processing facilities. #Iran denied involvement but was blamed by the #United #States for that attack.

#In recent weeks the U.S. military has taken a range of steps designed to deter #Iran, while publicly emphasizing that it is not planning, and has not been instructed, to take unprovoked action against #Iran.

#Last week, a U.S. #Navy guided-missile submarine made an unusual transit of the #Strait of #Hormuz, the strategic waterway between #Iran and the #Arabian #Peninsula. #Earlier in #December, a pair of B-52 bombers from #Barksdale #Air #Force #Base in #Louisiana flew what the military calls a “presence” mission over the #Gulf — a demonstration of U.S. force and a signal of U.S. commitment to the region, but not an attack mission. #That flight was repeated this week, with two B-52s flying nonstop from #Minot #Air #Force #Base in #North #Dakota and heading home #Wednesday after cruising over the western side of the #Gulf.

#Tensions with #Iran escalated with the killing in #November of #Mohsen #Fakhrizadeh, an #Iranian scientist named by the #West as the leader of the #Islamic #Republic’s disbanded military nuclear program. #Iran has blamed #Israel for the killing, but U.S. officials are concerned that any #Iranian retaliation could hit U.S. interests.



[ source link ]
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/30/bomber-mission-persian-gulf-iran-452349

#bomber #mission ##Persian ##Gulf #aimed #cautioning ##Iran

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