The US is deploying an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Middle East as a signal to Iran, National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Sunday.
The announcement comes as tensions between Washington and Tehran are at a high point over Iran's nuclear program, with the US increasing sanctions in the past year since president Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
Recently, the Trump administration took the bold step of designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. It was the first time the US had delivered such a designation for a foreign government's institution.
'Clear and unmistakable' signal
Bolton said the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group with a bomber task force to the US Central Command region was a response "to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."
Trump's national security adviser said the Lincoln was headed to the Central Command area, which could mean east to the Red Sea and perhaps to the Arabian Sea or the Persian Gulf, where the US Navy currently has no aircraft carrier stationed.
Although no specific details on the deployment were provided, Bolton said the White House was sending a "clear and unmistakable" message that any attack on US and its allies' interests would be met with "unrelenting force."
"The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces," Bolton said.
The White House did not explain the timing of the deployment, but it comes just as an escalation is taking place between Gaza-based Palestinian militants and Israel, during which the two sides have traded a barrage of rocket fire and air strikes in recent days.
jcg/bw (AP, AFP)