USS Arlington heads to Middle East as Iran tensions escalate

USS Arlington heads to Middle East as Iran tensions escalate

Amid escalating tensions with Iran, the Pentagon has announced that it is deploying a warship and a Patriot air defence missile system in the Middle East to deter the threats of possible operations against United States forces in the region by Tehran.

On Friday, the Pentagon announced the ship and an additional launching system for PAC-3 missiles are part of the U.S. Central Command's original request from earlier this week for additional forces.

The Pentagon said it expedited the Lincoln's deployment and sent bombers to the Middle East after usa intelligence signaled possible preparations by Tehran to stage attacks against U.S. forces or interests.

Iran dismissed the claim as nonsense, BBC reported. On Friday, a defence official reiterated that the Iranian threat "is still real and credible and we're taking it seriously".

Iran dismissed the deployment of the Lincoln as old news, but followed it with an announcement that it would suspend some of its commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with major powers abandoned by Washington previous year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he visited Iraq - where Iranian-backed armed groups operate - instead of Germany on 7 May due to the threat. The US military, CNN said, "believes that cruise missiles could be launched from the small Iranian boats".

The United States is bolstering its military presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to counter what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln approaches the Mubarak Peace Bridge as it transits the Suez Canal in Egypt, May 9, 2019.

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The Patriot, a long-range, all-weather air-defense system created to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and advanced aircraft, will be sent to an undisclosed location.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have escalated sharply in recent weeks. "But we are postured and ready to defend USA forces and interests in the region", it added.

The semi-official ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: "Their billion (-dollar) fleet can be destroyed with one missile".

He dismissed USA allegations of an Iranian threat as "fake intelligence" and said they were "being produced by the same people" who did so in the run-up to the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet, told Reuters on Thursday that its forces were on a heightened state of readiness, although the U.S. military was not seeking or preparing for war with Iran.

Rhetoric has grown heated on both sides. Iran has responded by scaling back some curbs on its nuclear program, although it remains compliant with a deal to restrict its nuclear activity which Washington abandoned a year ago. Iran has threatened to go further if other signatories fail to shield it from US economic sanctions.

European powers said they remained committed to the Iran nuclear deal but that they "reject any ultimatums" from Tehran to prevent its collapse.

Iranian TV channels showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.