As tensions between the United States and Iran continue to increase, the Pentagon has announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East, citing concerns about threats from Iran.
The acting Pentagon chief gave the green-light to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East on Monday, and he said it was for defensive purposes, to combat air, naval and ground-based threats.
He also claimed the deployment is in response to recent attacks from Iran, which validate the reliable, credible intelligence the US has received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region.
The justification stems from reports of an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Within hours, the US placed the blame solely on Iran. While Iran has adamantly denied the accusations the Pentagon doubled down on Monday, releasing grainy photos of what it claims shows forces from Iran removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels.
The US said the images were taken by a Navy helicopter, and it claims they provide evidence Iran’s Revolutionary Guard—which the US has designated as a terrorist organization—was behind the attack. However, the owner of the vessel featured in the Pentagon’s footage has said that reports of a mine attack on the tanker are false, sailors on board saw “flying objects” before the tanker was hit, and the damage from the attack was above the ship’s waterline.
In addition to denying any involvement in the attack, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke out on Tuesday and condemned accusations from the US. He also maintained his country is not seeking to go to war with any other nations.
“We do not wage war with any nation. Our opponents are a bunch of inexperienced politicians. But on our side, it is not just the country’s officials, but the whole Iranian nation that is unanimously present in this battle,” Rouhani said.
The timeline here is notable because last month, there were reports of two Saudi Arabian oil tankers being attack in the Persian Gulf. The US responded by deploying 1,500 troops to the Middle East. In response to the latest attack, it has taken the US just a few days to announce the deployment of 1,000 more troops, even though Iran has continued to deny any involvement.
It has been more than a year since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, and then violated that agreement by increasing sanctions on the country. This recent announcement from Iran that it will also violate the deal by exceeding the limits of its enriched-uranium stockpiles before the end of this month, could signal an upcoming flashpoint between the two countries.