According to a new report in The New York Times, photographs showing missiles being loaded on boats by Iranian paramilitary forces in the Persian Gulf is what prompted the U.S.'s recent warnings to Iran.
"Overhead imagery showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire them at United States naval ships," The New York Times reported.
Other threats were also picked up by intelligence sources, including potential attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq by Arab militias that have ties to Iran.
Last week, the U.S. announced it would be sending a carrier strike group to the Middle East in an effort to send a "clear and unmistakable message" to Iran.
"In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force 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," National Security Adviser Bolton said in a statement.
The State Department also recently evacuated non-essential personnel from the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil amid rising tensions with Iran.
The Times report noted that European allies and some in President Donald Trump's administration say Iran's moves may be due to what Tehran believes is the U.S.'s aggressive posturing in the region.
CNN has also reported that Iran was caught loading ballistic missiles on boats last week. A spokesperson with U.S. Central Command told the network they had seen "indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region."
Meanwhile, the aggressive policy adopted by the U.S. prompted Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a British deputy commander in the global coalition against ISIS, to contradict the risk of an attack from Iran.
"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Ghika told reporters Wednesday. "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."
The Washington Post reports that President Trump is not happy with his advisers, who he believes could rush the U.S. into a military conflict with Iran. Trump is said to prefer a diplomatic solution to easing tensions several U.S. officials told the paper.
Trump pushed back on the idea that there was any infighting about the administration's policy toward Iran.
"Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision — it is a very simple process," Trump tweeted on Wednesday. "All sides, views, and policies are covered. I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."
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