WASHINGTON — The Pentagon approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battery and a Navy ship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.
The USS Arlington and a Patriot battery will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a U.S. Air Force bomber task force, which were deployed earlier in the week to the region in response to "heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations."
The Patriot missile system, manufactured by Raytheon, is combat-tested against aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles. The system is currently deployed in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The additional U.S. forces to the Middle East is the Trump administration's latest effort to pressure Tehran over its support for weapons proliferation and extremist groups in the Middle East.
"The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies. Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region," the Pentagon wrote in a statement Friday announcing the deployment.
On Wednesday, Trump ordered new sanctions placed on Iranian metals, Tehran's largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue. The U.S. also took aim at Iranian oil by effectively ordering countries worldwide to stop buying Tehran's oil or face sanctions of their own.
Additionally, the U.S. designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. Iran responded with threats to close the Gulf's Strait of Hormuz, where about a third of the world's oil export vessels pass. The U.S. then announced it was expediting the deployment of a carrier strike group equipped with bomber aircraft to the region.
Tehran announced it was relaxing some restrictions on its nuclear program but would not violate a 2015 accord with Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Iran had agreed to the 2015 limits on its disputed nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. A year ago Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, calling it a "horrible, one-sided" deal.