In a late Sunday press release, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the deployment of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) and a bomber task force to U.S. Central Command as a “clear and unmistakable message to Iran.” The press release claims that the move was made “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” which were left unspecified.
The statement further claims that “any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force” and that, while “the United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime,” the Trump administration is “fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”
Last month, in a move that many viewed as a set-up for a war with Iran — which has long been sought by Bolton as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even prior to their posts in the current administration — the Trump administration labeled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran as a terrorist organization. Iran’s government subsequently responded in kind, labeling U.S. soldiers of Central Command as terrorists and designating the U.S. government as a state sponsor of terrorism.
While Bolton framed the latest move as a “warning” to Iran, it turns out that the deployment of the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to U.S. Central Command was actually announced last month with no mention at all of Iran. Indeed, a Navy press release published on April 8 stated that “the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) departed Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, April 1, for a regularly scheduled deployment.” The fleet has already been stationed in the Central Command region since at least April 15, when the U.S. Naval Institute announced that it was anchored off the coast of Spain.
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