Bolton claimed that Washington has “deep and serious” intelligence on the threat posed by Iran but declined to provide any details.
On 12 May, four oil tankers, including two Saudi vessels and a UAE-flagged ship, were targeted by a mysterious attack near the UAE’s exclusive economic zone. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the sabotage, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Tuesday that it was “quite possible” that Tehran was behind it.
The attack comes as tensions have further escalated between the United States and sanctions-battered Iran after the former boosted military presence in the Gulf region earlier in May, deploying a bomber task force and an aircraft carrier to the region.
Meanwhile, Pompeo confirmed in a press release on Friday that the United States had approved $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an effort to deter the alleged threat posed by Iran.
Pompeo said this move would be a “one-time event.” He emphasized that these arms transfers were critical for partners of the United States in the region to be able to provide for their own self-defence and to back US forces.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump said that Washington would deploy some 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East. Trump, however, said earlier that Washington hoped that the situation would not come to war.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Iran does not intend to wage war with the United States, but will continue to resist Washington.
US-Iran tensions sparked last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic. On 8 May, Iran announced its own decision to partially discontinue its obligations under the nuclear agreement.