The US has sent the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, to the Middle East to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran, in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings”.
The deployment comes after Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed US official who said that Iran had made a possible attack on US forces. US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the US would counter any attack with “unrelenting force”.
In a statement, Mr Bolton said: “The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
He added: “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime. But we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces.”
The USS Abraham Lincoln was already in Europe, taking part in war games with US allies that have been ongoing since the end of April. 90 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters can fit aboard the ship with a company of over 5,000 crew.
Last year President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal the US and other nations had agreed with Iran in 2015. Under the accord, Iran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for sanctions relief.