May 21, 2019 | The Washington Examiner
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the first anniversary of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal May 28. President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would start stockpiling enriched uranium and heavy water beyond the limits agreed to in the deal and would make more serious violations if the rest of the deal’s signatories did not give Iran better terms within 60 days.
The United States increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region soon after, accelerating deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln and dispatching B-52 bombers and Patriot defense missiles, citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran. Intelligence indicates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. government recently designated a foreign terrorist organization, loaded missiles onto boats in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave the go-ahead to proxy forces to attack U.S. forces and diplomatic facilities, according to officials. The U.S. withdrew all nonessential personnel from Iraq last week.
Members of Congress in both parties have expressed skepticism of the threats officials have cited, and the administration plans to brief all lawmakers Tuesday. . . .
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently briefed officials on a Pentagon plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked U.S. forces, according to a New York Times report. Trump dismissed the story as “fake news.”
“Now would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” Trump told reporters.
“Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?” a reporter shouted at Trump Thursday at a brief photo-op.
“I hope not,” the president replied.
(Excerpted from The Washington Examiner, article by Kelly Jane Torrance.)