Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford were on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon briefing lawmakers in the House and Senate about escalating threats from Iran.
The White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.
In February, as a Middle East meeting hosted by the Poles and orchestrated by the Trump administration kicked off, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted an ominous tweet, saying that the gathering was to "advance the common interest of war with Iran". "My expectation is that every member of Congress will join in our effort not only to deter Iran from taking action against American interests in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, but be very supportive of this administration when we take acts that are consistent with protecting Americans wherever they're serving". His decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear deal sent almost a decade's work by diplomats from across the world to the dustbin of history and widened the rift with Iran; and his intransigent rhetoric has sparked concerns of an all-out war.
Relations between Washington and Tehran plummeted a year ago when Trump pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed tough sanctions.
Washington's European allies say they share USA concerns about Iran's behaviour, but disagree with Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal, arguing that it undermines Rouhani's pragmatic faction and boosts Iran's hardliners. He's previously said the two had done the best they could.
Predictably, Iran has threatened to increase its nuclear activity in response.
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President Rouhani said Iran will stop exporting its excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program, as stipulated by the agreement.
There were also unconfirmed reports, citing United States and regional security officials, that Iran had loaded missiles on to boats in Iranian ports and that Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary fighters had positioned rockets near facilities in Iraq used by U.S. troops. "Iran has been attacking America for 40 years and Democrats are blaming America for it". In recent weeks, Washington expanded its "maximum pressure" campaign by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region in response to allegations that Iran and its allies had threatened to attack us interests. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Mideast already on edge.
When asked by a reporter about the prospects about a war with Iran, President Donald Trump simply said: "I hope not".
Iran has allegedly sabotaged oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and Yemen's Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels have carried out drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations amid U.S. intelligence warnings that Iran or Iran-backed groups could threaten USA interests.
He said the US' decision to counter possible threats gave the "Iranians time to recalculate".