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Iran Guards reject U.S. talks, cleric threatens carrier

12 May 2019

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday Tehran would not negotiate with the United States and a senior cleric warned that a U.S. navy fleet could be "destroyed with one missile", as a usa aircraft carrier headed toward the Gulf.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and accompanying ships have passed through the Suez Canal and are now in the Red Sea.

On May 5, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the deployment of a navy strike group headed by USS Abraham Lincoln and a strike aircraft task group to the CENTCOM zone of authority as a signal to Iranian authorities. The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In a statement yesterday the Pentagon said the U.S. is not seeking conflict with Iran, but made it clear that Washington was "ready to defend USA forces and interests in the region".

Despite the ramp up in military might, the Pentagon sought to downplay concerns that it was gearing up for war with Iran.

The US is deploying additional Patriot missiles in the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran, the media reported on Saturday.

These included, MARAD said, oil production infrastructure, after Tehran threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz chokepoint through which about one third of the world's seaborne crude exports flow.

Trump, who a year ago pulled Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, has expressed a willingness to meet Iranian leaders in the past to no avail and renewed that appeal in talking to reporters on Thursday.

"Since early May, there is an increased possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take action against US and partner interests, including oil production infrastructure, after recently threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz".

Washington has imposed a series of sanctions on Iranian oil and metal exports to increase pressure on Tehran to give up what it calls "malign" activities, such as attempting to develop nuclear weapons and financing militant activity in the region.

The Pentagon said the USA did not seek conflict with Iran, but that Washington was "ready to defend United States forces and interests in the region". "What is the guarantee that he will not renege again?", Takht Ravanchi said in a USA television interview. Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Wednesday told a Senate Appropriation Defence subcommittee that intelligence reports suggest a very possible attack on USA forces by Iran.

The US military believes cruise missiles could be launched from small Iranian boats, known as dhows.

The heated rhetoric has capped a multiyear standoff over the rogue nation's nuclear program.

Thousands of Iranians took part in marches on Friday to support the government's decision to reduce limits on its nuclear programme.

Iranian TV channels showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.

On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would no longer implement parts of the deal and threatened to go further if the remaining members of the pact, including the European Union, failed to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.

While the president has warned of a potential USA military response, he also urged Iranian leaders on Thursday to talk with him about their nuclear program.

"America should know, sanctions have no effect!" chanted the protesters.

Iran Guards reject U.S. talks, cleric threatens carrier