CNN has cited several US defence and administration officials as saying on Wednesday that “there has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks” indicating a possible Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East.
The sources referred to alleged movement of unspecified Iranian troops and weapons that Washington fears “could be put in place for a potential attack, if one is ordered by the Iranian regime.”
They did not clarify whether a potential threat emanated from the Iranian government or the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The remarks come as Under Secretary of Defence for Policy John Rood said earlier in the day that there are indications that an Iranian “aggression” could take place in the future amid aggravating relations between Tehran and Washington. He declined to elaborate.
Pentagon spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told CNN that the Department of Defence continues to “closely monitor the activities of the regime in Iran, its military and its proxies, and we are well postured to defend US forces and interests as needed”.
The statement followed General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, suggesting that Iran would possibly “do something that is irresponsible” and that it may “lash out at their neighbors”.
“It is not going to be productive for them in the long term to choose to act out in the military domain. That's the message that we're trying to convey,” he added.
IRGC Threatening to Destroy US
This came after Iranian General Allahnoor Noorollahi warned that his country’s missile systems are aimed at 21 American military bases in the Middle East and that the Islamic Republic can raise the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground. He also said that Iran is prepared to wage “the greatest war against the greatest enemy”.
The warning was preceded by IRGC chief commander Hossein Salami issuing another warning to Iran’s ‘enemies’, pledging late last month that the Islamic Republic would defeat them “at any scale” if they continue their “hostile actions”.
Earlier in November, Salami vowed that the IRGC would destroy the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia if they cross Tehran’s “red lines”, a statement that came after IRGC Navy Commander Ali Reza Tangsiri cautioned in October that “bitter fate” is in store for any country that encroaches on Iran’s sea border.
IRGC Aerospace Force Chief Amirali Hajizadeh said in September that “everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers, at a distance of up to 2,000 kilometres around Iran, are within the range of our missiles.”
US-Iranian Tensions Persist
The statements were made against the backdrop of simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran, which were sparked by President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw Washington from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, and re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic in May 2018.
Exactly a year later, Tehran announced that it had suspended some of its obligations under the JCPOA but that it does not want to leave the nuclear deal. An array of developments has since added further to the deterioration in bilateral ties.
These included several attacks on commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz in summer, as well as drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities on 14 September, something that Washington blamed on Iran which in turn rejected the accusations.
While Trump responded to the developments by ordering more anti-Iranian sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted that the US restrictive measures were nothing but acts of “international piracy” and “merciless economic terrorism.”