FLASH: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East in the latest US response to what Washington sees as a growing threat from Iran.
The decision further bolsters US defenses and comes after The Trump Administration expedited the deployment of a carrier strike group and sent bombers to the Middle East following what it said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.
The Patriot missile defense system is made by Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) and is designed to intercept incoming missiles.
The decision to send Patriot missiles to the region mark a reversal coming just months after the Pentagon removed several Patriot batteries from the Middle East.
Last year, officials described the withdrawal of the Patriots as part of a broader effort to adjust US military deployments globally, as the Pentagon sought to prioritize military challenges from Russia and China.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated sharply in recent weeks.
The United States has effectively ordered countries worldwide to stop buying Iranian Crude Oil or face US sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at cutting Iranian Crude Oil exports to Zero.
Washington last month blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.
National security adviser John Bolton called a highly unusual meeting at CIA HQ’s last week with The Trump Administration’s tTop intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers to talk about Iran.
The gathering included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
According to the reports, national security meetings are typically held in the White House Situation Room, and it’s “extremely rare” for such high-level officials to gather at CIA headquarters.
The sources said its sources wouldn’t say if the talk related to the U.S. decision to dispatch a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Middle East.
The United States announced new sanctions on Iran in a move to cripple its economy.
Wednesday, President Trump issued an executive order that announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors, which provide foreign currency earnings for Iran’s crippled economy.
Earlier Wednesday, Iran threatened to enrich its Uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms of the Y 2015 nuclear deal. President Trump pulled the US out of the deal a year ago, but the EU and other nations stayed in.
Iran’s move comes at a sensitive time in the region.
The White House dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over what it described as a new threat from Iran.
A televised address by President Rouhani saw him pressure Europe to shield Tehran from the sanctions imposed by President Trump withdrawing the US from the agreement exactly a year earlier.
President Rouhani’s threats put the world on notice that it cannot continue to rely on Iran complying with terms of the unraveling deal in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the US sanctions escalation is hammering Iran’s bleeding economy and blocking its sale of Crude Oil on the global market is only making it worse, putting further pressure on both its Shiite theocracy and its 80-M people.
Wednesday, Iran stopped its sale of excess Uranium and heavy water as a 1st step something required under the deal. Last week the US ended deals allowing Iran to exchange its enriched Uranium for unrefined yellowcake Uranium with Russia, and to sell its heavy water, which is used as a coolant in nuclear reactors, to Oman.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America “will wait and observe” what Iran does next.
On the streets of Tehran, the mood was mixed as people are struggling to make ends meet as the Iranian currency collapses.
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