Iranian threats put on hold: Acting US defence chief

Friday, 24 May, 2019

US officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump's administration wants to deter Tehran's aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.

"I worry very much that, intentionally or unintentionally, we can create a situation in which a war will take place", Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic presidential nomination, told reporters. However, Trump responded to Iran's warning to the signatories and tweeted on Sunday, stating; "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran".

"It was made very clear ... there is no intent to go to war in the region", he added.

Spiralling tensions between the United States and Iran has set the Middle East on edge, as Trump lashed out i a series of tweets described by Iran's foreign minister as 'genocidal'.

On Tuesday, Patrick Shanahan, the acting U.S. defence secretary, said while the threat posed by Iran in the region remained high, the potential for attacks on U.S. nationals had been "put on hold".

Cotton said he wasn't advocating a conflict with the country but rather stating it would be a grave miscalculation by Iran to take action against the U.S. He also has said he hopes Iran calls him and engages in negotiations.

Since then, the Trump administration has pursued a "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran, which it accuses of being a destabilising actor in the Middle East. Apparent acts of sabotage against four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and a rocket that landed within Baghdad's Green Zone compound-home to Washington's embassy and other government buildings-have gone unclaimed. "Never threaten the United States again!"

At the closed-door sessions, they spelled out to lawmakers what they described as the imminent threat from Iran, or its proxies, to USA personnel in the Middle East.

Top administration officials briefed the House and Senate in two closed-door sessions for all members, presenting evidence that Iran may be poised to attack US military and diplomatic personnel in the Middle East.

He further stated that the country can easily achieve 190 thousand of SWUs capacity, adding that the move was a message to other parties to the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"Putting ourselves in position to ensure that Iran knows that if they strike our troops, that they will face a response is appropriate", Smith said. "They don't want a war with Iran".

He noted that the U.S. won't stand handcuffed when it comes to the country's national security, adding that if the Iranian regime attacks the U.S. forces or interests in the Middle East, it will be met with great force.

FILE - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, answers questions in Tokyo, May 16, 2019. "And we walked through our efforts and our ultimate objective over the past days, which has been to deter Iran".

Top Democrats said Trump escalated problems by abruptly withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal, a complex accord negotiated during the Obama administration to prevent Iran from nuclear weapons production.