US may deploy thousands more troops amid Iran tension

The Pentagon is considering a request to send thousands more troops to the Middle East as relations worsen, unnamed officials say. Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader said he foresaw the demise of American civilization.

The US Department of Defense was expected to present plans to the White House on Thursday for thousands of troops to be deployed as reinforcements in the Middle East.

The meeting comes as tensions were ratcheted up further in the region, with Washington officials insisting there are credible threats against US forces there.

Read more: Americans believe war with Iran is coming

Sources quoted by news agencies said the extra personnel would be deployed in a defensive capacity. While the AP news agency said up to 10,000 extra personnel were being requested, Reuters put the number at about 5,000.

Politics | 17.05.2019

Officials, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said the discussions would also include a request for additional Patriot missile batteries and more ships in the area. The US has evacuated non-essential staff from Iran's neighbor Iraq, citing "credible threats" against its forces.

Any decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East would represent something of a departure for US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly stressed a need for Washington to reduce its troop presence there.

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US, Iran issue mutual threats on Twitter

Although US officials have provided little detail about the threat they perceive from Iran, the hazards posed by missiles mounted on small boats have been raised.

Read more: Iraq walks Iran-US tightrope as tensions escalate

Trump on Sunday tweeted that, if Iran wanted to fight, the country would face its "official end."

Defiant mood in Tehran

A senior commander from Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Wednesday said the US would not dare to attack.

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"If the criminal America and its Western and regional allies don't dare carry out a face-to-face military attack against our country it is because of the spirit of resistance and sacrifice of the people and youth," Major General Gholamali Rashid was reported as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

The deal breaker

President Donald Trump announced on May 8, 2018 that he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, arguing that the international accord was not in America's "national interest." The decision threw a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the nuclear accord and raised tensions with US allies in Europe.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Slap in the face

Britain, France and Germany lobbied the Trump administration and Congress to remain in the nuclear accord, arguing that the deal was working and a US violation without a follow up plan would be destabilizing. In European capitals, the Trump administration's withdrawal was viewed as a slap in the face of allies.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Iran scrap 'voluntary commitments'

A year to the day after Trump's announcement, Iran informed the other signatories of the accord that they would no longer adhere to certain "voluntary commitments." Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the signatory nations had 60 days to implement promises to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors or Iran would resume the enrichment of uranium.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Response to US pressure

The decision came after the United States deployed an aircraft, the USS Lincoln, along with a bomber task force to the Middle East. Washington said the deployment was intended as a "clear unmistakable message." Iran said it took action because the European Union and others "did not have the power to resist US pressure."

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

A triumph of diplomacy

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 by United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain (P5+1) and Iran following years of negotiations. Under the international agreement, Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and be subject to monitoring in exchange for the lifting of international nuclear related sanctions.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Compliance and verification

The JCPOA includes a robust monitoring, verification and inspection regime carried out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The UN watch dog has verified Iran's compliance with the deal in 12 quarterly reports. The JCPOA allows Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program for commercial, medical and industrial purposes in line with international non-proliferation standards.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Obama's achievement

The Iran nuclear deal was President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievement. Seeking to undo nearly every Obama administration legacy, Trump came into office calling it the "worst deal ever." The Trump administration argues the nuclear deal doesn't address other unrelated issues such as Iran's ballistic missiles, regional influence, support for "terrorist" groups and human rights.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Iranians approved

The nuclear deal and lifting of punishing nuclear related international sanctions created optimism in Iran after years of economic isolation. However, even before Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Tehran blamed the US for holding back international investment and not fulfilling its end of the bargain due to the uncertainty created by Trump's threats.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

The opponents

After eight years with Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found the US president he wanted in Donald Trump. The Israeli leader repeatedly slammed the deal despite his own military and intelligence chiefs' assessment the that JCPOA, while not perfect, was working and should be maintained. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the other main opponents of the nuclear deal.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Who's left?

The EU-3 (Britain, France, Germany) have scrambled to ensure that Iran receives the economic benefits it was promised in order to avoid Tehran pulling out of the deal. As EU businesses face retaliation from the US for doing business with Iran, many are opting to avoid Iran. This would likely be a present to Chinese and Russian businesses.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's youth would witness the end of Israeli and American civilization in their lifetime.

"You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel," Khamenei said in a meeting with students on Wednesday.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have deteriorated seriously since last year when Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal aimed at preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons.

rc/se (AP, Reuters)

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