- Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that the US has managed to “put a hold” on possible Iranian attacks against Americans in the Middle East.
- Explaining that there have been no attacks against Americans, he said that the deployment of strategic warfighting capabilities to the region has led Iran to recalculate.
- Shanahan said that the threat is real and the risk of attacks remains high.
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Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters Tuesday that the US has “put a hold” on possible Iranian attacks against Americans in the Middle East.
“We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” he said outside the Pentagon. He then clarified, telling reporters that “there haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold.”
“That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away,” Shanahan continued. “Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region.”
The acting secretary’s remarks follow the rapid deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, a task force of four B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers, and other warfighting capabilities to US Central Command, which oversees the US military in the Middle East.
These strategic assets were rushed to the Middle East in response to, CENTCOM previously explained, “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region.” The exact nature of the threat has yet to be clearly explained by the White House or the military.
The rhetoric from the White House has been shifting amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump warned on Twitter that “if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”
But on Monday, Trump surprisingly softened his tone. “We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force. We will have no choice,” he told reporters outside the White House.
While there are signs that the Trump administration is interested in negotiating with Iran, the latter has made it clear that it is not ready for talks.