Iran is likely moving short-range ballistic missiles by boat in the Persian Gulf, a key reason the United States decided this week to move an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the area, CNN reported Tuesday.
The network, citing several U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the situation, reported that movement of the missiles along with intelligence from other areas led the Trump administration to believe Iran had an intention to launch strikes against U.S. targets.
National security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE on Sunday announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group and a B-52 bomber task force were deploying to the U.S. Central Command region “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”
The announcement at the time was in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.
U.S. Central Command (CENTOM) spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban in a statement on Tuesday called the deployment of the strike group and bomber task force “prudent steps to protect U.S. forces and interests in the region and to deter any aggression.”
He added that CENTOM requested more forces after “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region,” indicating that the threats were both maritime and on land.
The officials cited by CNN said that the Pentagon is considering sending more military assets to the region, including anti-missile defense systems.
It was unclear whether Iran intended to launch missiles from the boats or if they were transporting them to another land location to be used by Iranian forces, the outlet reported.
The movement raises fears that Iran could pose a risk to U.S. and coalition forces in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. There are also concerns over U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, as well as transit in the Red Sea, where Iranian-backed forces in Yemen could hinder.