October 22, 2019

US to Send 1,000 Additional Troops to Middle East As Tensions Rise with Iran

U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan walks through the subway system at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States will be sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East while tensions increase between the U.S. and Iran, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced June 17.

Shanahan said in a statement that Iran’s “recent hostile power” necessitated the extra troops in the region.

The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests,” Shanahan said. “We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats.”

The additional troops come after the U.S. accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13; Iran has denied involvement. The Pentagon released two photos on Monday showing Iran removing a mine from one of the tankers that hadn’t detonated and a hole on the side of the same tanker that purportedly came from a mine. The photos are evidence that Iran was behind the attack, the Pentagon argued.

Also on Monday, Iran threatened to breach the uranium enrichment limits set under the Iran nuclear deal in 10 days if Western countries don’t agree to a new nuclear deal after President Donald Trump exited from the deal in May 2018. Former International Atomic Energy Agency head Olli Heinonen estimated on June 5 that Iran could develop nuclear weapons in six-to-eight months.

The Trump administration has been ramping up sanctions against Iran, including possible sanctions cracking down on European countries’ trade with Iran.