USA officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran

EDITORIAL | Act now to silence the Iran war drums

Sec Def Shanahan: Threat for Potential Attacks by Iran ‘Remains High’

A prominent reformist lawmaker in Iran has reportedly said the Islamic Republic "under no circumstance" will enter a war with the USA, either directly or through proxy forces. Iran has repeatedly rejected any further negotiations as long as the United States remains outside the nuclear pact.

Iran has portrayed the hot and cold rhetoric as evidence Trump is being goaded into war against his better judgement by hardline aides such as National Security Adviser John Bolton.

US officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump's administration wants to deter Tehran's aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.

"I can tell you this senator and many like me are going to resist any effort to engage the United States in another war in the Middle East", Durbin said.

The Trump administration last week ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing the danger posed by Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups.

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"They explained to us how the Iranian threat streams were different than in the past, that the attack on the ships and the pipeline was coordinated and directed by the Iranian government, the ayatollah", Graham told reporters.

The officials arrived on Capitol Hill as questions mounted over President Donald Trump's tough talk on Iran and sudden policy shifts in the region. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, alleged that four oil tankers were sabotaged off its coast, and Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen have launched drone attacks into Saudi Arabia.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Iranian threats against USA forces in the Middle East have been "put on hold" after the Trump administration deployed a aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the region.

After the Senate meeting, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said they had told lawmakers the recent attacks on shipping and a pipeline in the Middle East were directed by the Iranian government and that USA officials had detected worrisome communication between Tehran and a Shi'ite militia that prompted the military to quickly relocate an aircraft carrier.

Democratic congressional leaders held a press conference on Tuesday in which they sided with Iran in an increasingly tense standoff that has pitted the hardline Islamic regime against the Trump administration as it seeks to thwart Tehran's regional terror operations.

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"I'd say we're in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians".

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, was recently designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump administration, the first ever designation of an entire foreign military.

Trump restored USA sanctions on Iran past year and extended them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

The comments were also posted on Khamenei's official website Wednesday night.

The foreign minister of Oman, which has brokered secret talks between the U.S. and Iran in the past, visited Tehran to discuss regional issues with Mr Zarif on Monday.

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"There haven't been any attacks on Americans".

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