Pentagon deploys warship, Patriot missiles in Middle East to deter Iranian 'threats'

1 missile can destroy ‘billion-dollar fleet’, Iran cleric says as US carrier sails to Gulf

US sends carrier, bombers to Middle East as Iran tensions increase

The latest round of heavy weaponry joins the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and an Air Force bomber task force, both of which arrived in the Central Command region this week to send an "unmistakable message", in the words of National Security Adviser John Bolton, that the USA is prepared to unleash "unrelenting force" in response to any provocation.

US B-52 bombers have already arrived at a base in Qatar, said Pentagon.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say one of the pieces of intelligence indicated Iran had moved missiles on boats.

The tension between the United States and Iran has flared up in recent weeks, after the US announced in April that it was ending all sanction waivers for Iranian oil customers, aiming to cut Iran's oil exports to zero.

Meanwhile Iran news agency Isna quoted a senior Iranian cleric, Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, as saying that the United States military fleet could be "destroyed with one missile".

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Last year, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal America and other nations had agreed with Iran in 2015.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by US President Donald Trump's administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and is now sailing in the Red Sea. On the following day, Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan described the deployments as "a prudent repositioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces".

A second USA military ship is heading to the Middle East to join an aircraft carrier deployed just days ago as tensions with Iran escalate.

MARAD added that US-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.

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The Iranian threat was both "on land and sea" and included commercial dhows that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a branch of Iran's armed forces, loaded with "potential military hardware to include missiles", a senior military official told reporters at the Pentagon.

The US has approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles and a warship to the Middle East, further bolstering its presence in the region amid escalating tensions with Iran. "However we are absolutely ready to respond to any aggression against the United States, partners in the region, or our interests". One of the officials said the particular missile observed was perhaps capable of being launched from a small ship.

The heated rhetoric has capped a multiyear standoff over the rogue nation's nuclear program. The European Union on Thursday urged Iran to respect the worldwide agreement curbing the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions, and added that the bloc aims to continue trading with the country despite United States sanctions.

The BBC quoted a senior Iranian cleric Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad as saying the United States military fleet could be "destroyed with one missile".

Iranian TV channels showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.

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While the president has warned of a potential US military response, he also urged Iranian leaders on Thursday to talk with him about their nuclear program.

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