Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
US Commander Says He Believes Iranian Threat 'Is Very Real'
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
June 7, 2019

Share

BAGHDAD — Iran has chosen to “step back and recalculate” after making preparations for an apparent attack against U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, but it is too early to conclude the threat is gone, the top commander of American forces in the Mideast said.

“I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished. I believe the threat is very real.” — Gen. Frank McKenzie
In an interview with three reporters accompanying him to the Gulf, Gen. Frank McKenzie said he remains concerned by Iran’s potential for aggression and he would not rule out requesting additional U.S. forces to bolster defenses against Iranian missiles or other weapons.
“I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished,” McKenzie said Thursday. “I believe the threat is very real.”
McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, and other military officials are trying to strike a balance between persuading Iran that the U.S. is prepared to retaliate for an Iranian attack on Americans, thus deterring conflict, and pushing so much military muscle into the Gulf that Iran thinks the U.S. plans an attack, in which case it might feel compelled to strike preemptively and thus spark war.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have worsened since President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and several world powers and reinstated sanctions on Tehran. Last month, in response to what American officials characterized as an imminent threat, the U.S. announced it would rush an aircraft carrier and other assets to the region.
The U.S. also blamed Iran for last month’s attacks on oil tankers in a United Arab Emirates port.

Saudi Arabia Also Blames Iran for Sabotage

On Thursday, United Nations ambassadors from the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Norway told U.N. Security Council members that investigators believe those attacks were led by a foreign state using divers on speed boats who planted mines on the vessels. They did not name Iran.
Earlier, the Saudi ambassador to the U.N., Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, said Saudi Arabia also blames Iran for the sabotage.
Iran has consistently dismissed allegations that it was involved in the recent attacks on the oil tankers or was preparing to attack American troops in the region.
In Baghdad, McKenzie told reporters from The Associated Press and two other media organizations that U.S. redeployments to the Gulf have “caused the Iranians to back up a little bit, but I’m not sure they are strategically backing down.”
The general said the U.S. is showing enough force to “establish deterrence” without “needlessly” provoking its longtime adversary. He said he is confident in the moves he has made.
“We’ve taken steps to show the Iranians that we mean business in our ability to defend ourselves,” he said, referring to the accelerated deployment to the Gulf area of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, four Air Force B-52 bombers and additional batteries of Army Patriot air-defense systems.
Trump, speaking beside French President Emmanuel Macron in Caen, France, said U.S. sanctions are crippling Iran’s economy, possibly yielding a diplomatic opening.
“And if they want to talk, that’s fine,” Trump said. “We’ll talk. But the one thing that they can’t have is they can’t have nuclear weapons.”

Photo of a diver investigating the damage done to the Saudi-owned oil tanker
Undated photograph released Thursday shows a diver investigating the damage done to the Saudi-owned oil tanker Al Marzoqah off the coast of United Arab Emirates. (United Arab Emirates’ Mission to the United Nations via AP)

Gen. McKenzie Stressed the Danger of Conflict

Speaking at the Baghdad headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, McKenzie said he also has repositioned surveillance aircraft to more closely monitor the situation in the Gulf and in Iraq, where the U.S. has 5,200 troops on the ground, and has given Iran a “new look” by introducing more aerial patrols by land- and carrier-based fighters.
“Cumulatively, all of these have caused them to sort of step back and recalculate the course that they apparently were on,” he said.

“I hesitate to say that deterrence has been established. We continue to see possible imminent threats” of a potential Iranian attack.” — Gen. Frank McKenzie
McKenzie did not mention it, but other officials have said that in early May Iran had cruise and perhaps short-range ballistic missiles configured for potential use aboard a small number of dhows sailing off its coast. More recently, those missiles, which were deemed a potential threat, were offloaded, officials have said.
McKenzie stressed that the danger of conflict with a decades-old American adversary has not passed.
“I hesitate to say that deterrence has been established,” he said. “We continue to see possible imminent threats” of a potential Iranian attack.
He said he could not be more specific due to the classification of the intelligence, which he said is as clear and compelling as any he has seen in years.
McKenzie, a veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, took command of Central Command in late March, shortly before the onset of the latest surge in tensions with Iran. He previously directed the staff that supports the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A Pair of Highly Public Actions Meant to Penalize Iran

The general said he, not the White House, initiated the May 5 moves to accelerate the deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group and to dispatch B-52 bombers.
He said the intelligence on Iranian threats in the first days of May was “compelling” and that the threats were “advanced, imminent and very specific.”
The pattern of intelligence on Iranian preparations for potential attacks emerged as the Trump administration took a pair of highly public actions meant to penalize Iran. The first was the State Department’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The second, perhaps more consequential, move was an April 22 announcement that waivers for American sanctions on buyers of Iranian oil would not be renewed when they expired May 2, meaning Iran lost vital oil export revenues.
U.S. intelligence was then picking up what Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week looked like a pattern of Iranian plotting against U.S. and other targets in the region. Dunford said that on May 3, the U.S. sent a message to Iranian officials “just to make it clear they understood that we would hold them accountable should something take place in the region.”
Two days later, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, announced the movement of the carrier, prompting an explosion of questions about what new threats Iran had posed to prompt such a highly unusual White House declaration. McKenzie said the carrier request was his, in consultation with Dunford, and that he faced no political pressure to make the request.

DON'T MISS

Did Biden Do Right by Dropping Out? Valley Leaders Share Their Views

DON'T MISS

With Biden Out, Vice President Kamala Harris Has a Chance to Make History Again

DON'T MISS

‘Cold-Blooded’ Nancy Pelosi Was Key to Nudging Biden Out

DON'T MISS

Democrats Hail Biden’s Decision to Not Seek Reelection While Republicans Urge Him to Resign

DON'T MISS

Where Kamala Harris Stands on the Issues: Abortion, Immigration and More

DON'T MISS

How Will Democrats Replace Biden at the Top of the Presidential Ticket?

DON'T MISS

Tadej Pogacar Wins 3rd Tour de France in Dominating Fashion

DON'T MISS

What Happens Next: Joe Biden Wants To Pass the Baton to Kamala Harris

DON'T MISS

Pro-Lifers Helped Bring Trump to Power. Why Has He Abandoned Us?

DON'T MISS

Xander the Great! Schauffele Wins the British Open for His 2nd Major This Year

UP NEXT

911 Systems Disrupted in at Least 3 States

UP NEXT

Mourners Gather for Funeral of Man Slain at Trump Rally in Pennsylvania

UP NEXT

Russia Convicts US Reporter of Espionage After a Trial Widely Seen as Politically Motivated

UP NEXT

Drone Strike by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Kills 1 Person and Wounds at Least 10 in Tel Aviv

UP NEXT

Top UN Court Says Israel’s Presence in Occupied Palestinian Territories Is Illegal

UP NEXT

Widespread Technology Outage Disrupts Flights, Banks, Media Outlets and Companies Around the World

UP NEXT

Founder of Fandango Dies After Plunge From Manhattan Hotel

UP NEXT

Why Does Venezuela’s President Appear on the Ballot 13 Times?

UP NEXT

America’s Allies in Middle East See Some Advantages in Potential 2nd Trump Presidency

UP NEXT

Rally Shooter Had Photos of Trump, Biden and Other US Officials on His Phone, AP Sources Say

Democrats Hail Biden’s Decision to Not Seek Reelection While Republicans Urge Him to Resign

2 hours ago

Where Kamala Harris Stands on the Issues: Abortion, Immigration and More

2 hours ago

How Will Democrats Replace Biden at the Top of the Presidential Ticket?

2 hours ago

Tadej Pogacar Wins 3rd Tour de France in Dominating Fashion

3 hours ago

What Happens Next: Joe Biden Wants To Pass the Baton to Kamala Harris

3 hours ago

Pro-Lifers Helped Bring Trump to Power. Why Has He Abandoned Us?

3 hours ago

Xander the Great! Schauffele Wins the British Open for His 2nd Major This Year

3 hours ago

Biden Drops Out of Race, Scrambling the Campaign for the White House

3 hours ago

President Joe Biden Drops Out of the 2024 Presidential Race

4 hours ago

Protecting Domestic Wells a Key Piece of Southern Fresno County Groundwater Agency’s Planning

9 hours ago

Did Biden Do Right by Dropping Out? Valley Leaders Share Their Views

With news that President Joe Biden had dropped out of the race, leaders at the local, state, and national levels reacted — with some Republi...

44 mins ago

44 mins ago

Did Biden Do Right by Dropping Out? Valley Leaders Share Their Views

1 hour ago

With Biden Out, Vice President Kamala Harris Has a Chance to Make History Again

Photo of Nancy Pelosi
2 hours ago

‘Cold-Blooded’ Nancy Pelosi Was Key to Nudging Biden Out

2 hours ago

Democrats Hail Biden’s Decision to Not Seek Reelection While Republicans Urge Him to Resign

2 hours ago

Where Kamala Harris Stands on the Issues: Abortion, Immigration and More

2 hours ago

How Will Democrats Replace Biden at the Top of the Presidential Ticket?

3 hours ago

Tadej Pogacar Wins 3rd Tour de France in Dominating Fashion

3 hours ago

What Happens Next: Joe Biden Wants To Pass the Baton to Kamala Harris

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend