WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has redirected an aircraft strike force and a bomber group to be in a position to strike Iran should Tehran attack U.S. interests.
The move was in response to unspecified threats to the U.S. military by Iran, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday night in a statement.
U.S. carrier groups are not present in the Persian Gulf.
“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 his in a statement.
He said the U.S. has received “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” but did not offer details.
The Associated Press quoted one defense official as saying there were “clear indications” that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region.
Ordered to the Central Command region are the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force. Central Command encompasses the Middle East. The Lincoln has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Sunday, as he flew to Europe.
“If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that,” Pompeo said, according to news reports.
The Lincoln carrier group usually includes a destroyer squadron, the USS Leyte Gulf, and the frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez.