Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET on June 17, 2019.
For almost a year, Iran looked set to hunker down and take the Trump administration’s repeated punches—the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the escalating sanctions, the intensified threats. But now Iran is punching back.
On Monday Tehran announced a clear and rapid plan to start breaching the nuclear deal—which Iran and all the original signatories have stayed in without the United States—unless certain conditions were met. This followed a series of attacks against oil tankers in the region, which the Trump administration has attributed to Iran over Iranian denials, and the shooting down last week of a U.S. surveillance drone over Yemeni territory controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi movement.
Monday afternoon, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the deployment of a further 1,000 troops to the Middle East, citing the tanker attacks. In a statement, Shanahan said the deployment, which follows recent movements of other U.S. military assets to the region, including a carrier strike group, a Patriot missile battery, and some 1,500 troops, was not meant to stoke conflict. “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests,” the statement said. Defense officials also released new images of the damaged tankers they said pointed to Iranian involvement, though the identity of the attackers is not evident from the photos themselves.