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Is the U.S.-Iran nuclear standoff cooling down or heating up? – analysis

On May 5, the US announced that it was moving a naval flotilla into the Persian Gulf which included significant additional aerial strike capabilities.
One could get whiplash from the recent contradictory signals and announcements.

They have been strikingly incoherent even for the Trump administration, which either appears to savor keeping adversaries off balance about its intentions or lacks a coherent policy.

On May 5, the US announced that it was moving a naval flotilla into the Persian Gulf which included significant additional aerial strike capabilities. There was hot debate about whether this was just a general defensive, deterrent message to Tehran following threats from the Islamic republic’s leaders, that Iran or its proxies were going to go after US troops stationed in the region, or a prelude to an offensive war.

Next, it leaked to the media that top US military officials were putting together a possible scenario wherein the Washington might need to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East.

This moved the dial significantly toward the US getting ready for an offensive war – of not waiting for new Iranian actions before striking Tehran’s nuclear program and pushing back against its other aggressive activities.

That lasted a brief time as US President Donald Trump then said last Monday that he saw no indications that Iran was planning any specific attacks on the US and that he was not planning to start a war.

Then on Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan did a mini and bizarre version of declaring “mission accomplished,” declaring that the Islamic republic had backed off its plans to strike the US. This was the strongest evidence yet that the US was looking to deter Tehran through its movement of naval and aerial assets and media leaks, but wanted to proclaim “victory” so that it could climb down from any expectation that it might actually imminently attack Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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