Just hours after US National Security Advisor John Bolton formally accused Tehran of conducing the May 12 tanker "sabotage" attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran's foreign ministry has responded that "we are ready for war" amid fears that Washington could still be on a war footing in the Persian Gulf.
“We hope that we can start a dialogue, but we are ready for war,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told RIA Novosti.
Bolton had told a press conference earlier in the day in Dubai, “The point is to make it very clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of actions risk a very strong response from the United States.”
Bolton is in Abu Dhabi attending an emergency summit of gulf leaders to consider the implications of both the "sabotage" tanker attacks near Fujairah emiriate in the UAE and the drone strikes two days following on a Saudi Aramco pipeline and oil pumping station.
Meanwhile acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters while in Asia for a major policy speech on the region, "nobody wants war" with Iran. However, he added that the US is ready and willing to "defend ships in the Strait of Hormuz" if necessary.
Also of note is that Shanahan for the first time identified that 900 American troops newly deployed to the Middle East in response to the heightened Iran threat are headed to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
JUST IN: Acting SecDef Shanahan says that the 900 troops being sent to the Mideast in response to what the administration calls an elevated Iran threat are going to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. (This is interesting since the place officials say American troops were at risk was Iraq.)— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) May 29, 2019
Riyadh hosting a new wave of American troops on Saudi soil is sure to be deeply controversial within the kingdom's Wahhabi clerical establishment, given its strict form of Islam sees the region of Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, as sacred ground which is off limits to US soldiers.
While there are already limited US Air Force units stationed across up to five Saudi air bases such as Riyadh Air Force Base and Eskan Village Air Base, the fact that the Saudis previously hosted American personnel for attacks on Iraq proved deeply controversial in the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Iran's military leaders have slammed the latest announced US troop deployment — now made more interesting given at least some of those military personnel will be based out of Shia Iran's foremost Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.
“If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” Gen. Morteza Qorbani, a top adviser to Iran’s military command, told the semiofficial news agency Mizan over the past weekend.