08:52 GMT +319 November 2019
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    This January 19, 2012 image provided by the US Navy, shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transiting the Arabian Sea.

    Sen. Graham Urges US to Give Overwhelming Military Response to 'Iranian Threat'

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    The statement comes amid ever-increasing tensions between the US and Iran which escalated on 8 May, when the Islamic republic suspended some of its obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The US, in turn, slapped additional anti-Iranian sanctions and sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf.

    US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted that the nation's National Security Adviser, John Bolton, had briefed him on current US relations with Iran.

    “Just received a briefing from National Security Adviser Bolton about escalating tensions with Iran. It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq”, Graham claimed. 

    READ MORE: US Navy Flexes Muscles in Arabian Sea Amid Heightening Tensions With Iran

    Saudi Arabia accused Iran of ordering this week’s attack on key oil facilities, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed, in turn, that Iran “does not seek clashes in the region,” “but it has always defended its interests forcefully and will continue to do so now.”

    Graham called for delivering “an overwhelming military response if the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated”, urging US President Donald Trump to “stand firm”.

    Graham's tweets followed a public warning last week that the Trump administration was leaving lawmakers, including himself, in the dark about what he described as threats from Iran.

    The new rhetoric comes amid mounting US-Iran tensions which exacerbated earlier this month, when the US imposed more anti-Iran sanctions and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers and a battery of Patriot missiles to the Middle East. Iran, for its part, suspended some of its obligations under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    READ MORE: US 'Sitting By the Phone' But Hasn't Heard From Iran Yet — Trump Admin. Official

    Bolton claimed that the massive US deployment was in response to the “troubling and escalatory indications” of Iranian activity in the region. Tehran denied the allegations, condemning the US sabre-rattling as “psychological warfare” and expressing readiness to retaliate against a potential military conflict.

    In a separate development, a recent report by The New York Times argued that it is Bolton who is behind the creation of a plan, allegedly presented by acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan earlier this month, to deploy 120,000 US troops to the Middle East if Iran starts developing nuclear weapons.

    Trump denied that such a plan existed, but did not rule it out completely, noting that the numbers would be higher if such an approach was adopted.

    READ MORE: Trump May Bypass Congress to Launch Iran War, US Media Outlet Claims

    The past few weeks have seen Trump changing his stance on the possibility of a full-fledged armed conflict with Iran. Last week, he told Shanahan that he does not want the US to unleash war against Iran, but on Sunday, he tweeted that if the Islamic Republic “wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran”.

    Shortly after, however, he struck a more conciliatory tone, stressing that he “doesn’t want to fight” with Tehran and that “you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons — you just can’t let that happen”.


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