United States sends warship to Middle East as Iran tensions escalate

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The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and B-52 bombers have also arrived at a U.S. base in Qatar, U.S. Central Command said.

Officials had said earlier this week that sending a Patriot battery to the area was under discussion and was part of the initial request made by the Pentagon's U.S. Central Command.

On Friday, the Pentagon said that the U.S. did not seek conflict with Iran, but that Washington was "ready to defend USA forces and interests in the region".

The US has effectively ordered countries worldwide to stop buying Iranian oil or face US sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at completely choking off Iranian crude exports. The Islamic Republic has dismissed the us contention of a threat as "fake intelligence".

The activity comes on and around the first anniversary of Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose tough economic sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he visited Iraq - where Iranian-backed armed groups operate - instead of Germany on 7 May due to the threat. "The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime".

The U.S. military said this week that a number of B-52 bombers would be part of additional forces being sent to the Middle East to counter what the Trump administration calls "clear indications" of threats from Iran to U.S. forces there.

The USS Abraham Lincoln strike group was deployed earlier this week in response to what the Administration called a "serious threat" from Iran.

United Kingdom warns Iran of 'consequences' if it retreats from 2015 nuclear deal
Such a strike would also send world oil prices soaring and enable Iran to get more income from its oil sales, the report added. But he told reporters at the White House that he wants the Iranian leadership to contact him.

MARAD added that USA -flagged ships were encouraged to contact the Fifth Fleet - which is tasked with protecting commercial shipping in the area - at least two days before sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Patriot system is a long-range, all-weather air defense system meant to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.

Tensions escalated in the Middle East on Friday as Iran warned it could easily destroy a naval fleet sent by the United States in order to ward off a potential threat to the nation's commercial interests.

The Pentagon says USA forces are responding to a possible threat to United States forces, but did not offer any specifics regarding those threats. "However we are absolutely ready to respond to any aggression against the United States, partners in the region, or our interests".

The heated rhetoric has capped a multiyear standoff over the rogue nation's nuclear program.

"Their billion [-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile", Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad said, Reuters reported. One of the officials said the particular missile observed was perhaps capable of launching from a small ship.

Iran suggested, too, that it may resume uranium enrichment nuclear activities.

"Because of our action, the Iranian regime is struggling to fund its campaign of violent terror, as its economy heads into an unprecedented depression, government revenue dries up, and inflation spirals out of control", Trump said in a statement on May 8. Iran has threatened to go further if other parties to the 2015 deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation - fail to shield it from U.S. sanctions.

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