A top Iranian national security official said Wednesday that his nation and the U.S. will not engage in a military conflict, even as the Trump administration appeared to escalate tensions with Tehran two days earlier by announcing the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East.
“There will not be a military confrontation between Iran and America since there is no reason for a war,” said Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA. Shamkhani’s remarks were also reported by .
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“Accusing other countries has turned into a common practice among U.S. officials as they try to pressure other counties,” Shamkhani said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior Trump administration officials have accused Iran of perpetrating attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, though Tehran has denied responsibility for the explosions which partly destroyed the vessels.
A U.S. Navy official said Wednesday that a limpet mine used in the attack on one of the tankers, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, bore a striking resemblance to similar Iranian explosive devices, according to the Associated Press.
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami insisted Wednesday that Tehran was not behind the tanker assaults, declaring that “the accusation against Iran is totally a lie and I dismiss it firmly,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency and the AP.
In response to the alleged Iranian attacks, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday authorized the Pentagon’s latest deployment of American forces “to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” he said in a statement.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan added.
Tehran on Monday also ramped up the potential for a military conflict with the U.S. after a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced the country would soon breach the uranium stockpile limits established by a 2015 multinational nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump sought to downplay the possibility of a full-scale confrontation with Iran in an interview Monday with Time magazine, describing the recent tanker explosions and other attacks attributed to Tehran as “very minor.”
Trump tweeted Tuesday that Shanahan would be withdrawing from consideration to become permanent Defense secretary and would be stepping down as acting Pentagon chief – further contributing to instability within the administration at a tumultuous moment in the relationship between Washington and Tehran.
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