The US announced early on Saturday that it is sending a Patriot missile-defence system to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran. The move comes just months after the Pentagon removed several Patriot batteries from the Middle East.
Claiming responding to Iran’s possible threat to US forces in the Arabian Gulf region, the US said that its warship, USS Arlington, with amphibious vehicles and aircraft on board, will join the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group in the Gulf.
“The Acting Secretary of Defence has approved the movement of USS Arlington (LPD-24) and a Patriot battery to US Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of the command’s original request for forces from earlier this week,” a Pentagon statement said.
The warship has already passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday, and is currently sailing in the Red Sea, according to CNN. The Pentagon also announced that US B-52 bombers have arrived at the US air base Al Udeid in Qatar.
“The Department of Defence continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military, and proxies. Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces,” the statement said.
The statement stressed that the US does not seek conflict with Iran, but “we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”
Tensions between Washington and Tehran are at a high point over Iran’s nuclear programme, with the US increasing sanctions in the past year since Trump withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.
Last week, Iran announced that it had suspended two commitments under the JCPOA in response to the US economic sanctions. It said it would start resuming high level uranium enrichment if, after 60 days, the signatory states failed to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from sanctions.
European signatory states reaffirmed their commitment to the JCPOA but that they also rejected any ultimatums from Tehran.