Published: Wed, May 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Threat from Iran diminished, potential for U.S. attack 'on hold': Defence secretary

Threat from Iran diminished, potential for U.S. attack 'on hold': Defence secretary

But he cautioned that any threats by Iran or Iranian-back militias haven't been eradicated.

Top officials in the Trump administration were dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to brief lawmakers about escalating tensions with Iran, saying afterward they are focused on trying to deter attacks and avoid war.

A US State Department official noted on Sunday that there had been no claim of responsibility for the rocket attack, and that no USA -inhabited facility was affected, but said "we will hold Iran responsible" if such attacks were carried out by proxy militia forces.

"Secretary Pompeo made a very lengthy political argument and he argued, "Here are all the bad things that Iran has done", and he spent about 10 minutes until I cut him off", Representative Adam Smith, the Democrat chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters after the briefing for House members.

"Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate".

"There is no intention to go to war in the region".

The foreign minister of Oman, which has brokered secret talks between the USA and Iran in the past, visited Tehran to discuss regional issues with Mr Zarif on Monday.

"We talked about those threats and there were attacks", he said, without providing specifics about the attacks.

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The sources, who are familiar with USA national security assessments and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was still trying to establish which militia fired the Katyusha rocket on Sunday and the extent, if any, of Iranian involvement.

Iran has kept to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the 2015 deal which limited the scope of its nuclear programme, and has called on other parties to uphold the deal despite the United States withdrawal. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018. They accuse the U.S. of waging "economic warfare" with the reimposition of sanctions, as well as its move to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

"Our efforts and our ultimate objective over the past days has been to deter Iran", Pompeo said.

The administration's response was meant to "de-escalate and provide a deterrent strategy so that Iran does not become aggressive", McCaul said.

"We were lied to about Iraq supposedly having weapons of mass destruction", Sanders said.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, compared the Trump administration's claims to false arguments that led to the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.

The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task group was recently deployed to the Middle East early "in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests", according to the Pentagon statement about the deployment.

Trump said while there are no talks with Iran he still wants to hear from them, "if they're ready".

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