US military will send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions build with Iran. Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the deployment was in response to what he described as “hostile behaviour” by Iranian forces.
The US Navy also shared new images it says link Iran to attacks last week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Washington has accused Iran of blowing holes in the vessels with mines. Iran has denied the allegations.
Tensions were further fuelled on Monday when Iran said its stockpile of low-enriched uranium would next week exceed levels set under the 2015 nuclear agreement.
It recently stepped up production in response to the US tightening sanctions. The 2015 deal, from which the US has withdrawn, curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country did not seek to wage war with any nation and had remained “loyal” to its international obligations.
Meanwhile, Russia on Tuesday called for restraint to avoid escalation in the Middle East after the US said it was deploying additional troops due to heightened tensions with Iran.
“We are urging all the sides to show restraint,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in response to a question on the deployment.
“We would prefer not to see any steps that could introduce additional tensions in the already unstable region.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said US plans to increase its troop presence in the Middle East were aimed at provoking armed conflict. – Agencies