Iran's president lambasted new U.S. sanctions by the Trump administration targeting the country's foreign minister, describing the move on Thursday as "childish" and a barrier to diplomacy.
The challenge for the Trump administration is avoiding a conflict with Iran while maintaining a truce with China in the trade war.
The U.S. will take all actions necessary – "diplomatic and otherwise" – to deter Iran from disrupting Gulf energy supplies, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Sunday.
Iran's foreign minister was in Pakistan on Friday, a critically timed visit amid a simmering crisis between Tehran and Washington.
In an interview for CNN, Iran’s Foreign Minister warned the U.S. of the consequences of deploying forces to the Middle East. “Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents,” Zarif said. “Extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game.”
President Trump on Monday played down tensions with Iran, saying his administration currently has no signs of threatening actions by Tehran but that if that changes, the United States "will have no choice" but to respond forcefully.
President Trump warned Sunday that threats from Iran against the United States would mark that nation's "official end" – taking a sharply more aggressive tone after a rocket landed inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone near the U.S. Embassy amid increasing tensions in the region.
On Monday, the New York Times reported that acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan last week presented an updated military plan that included the possible deployment of 120,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East, which could theoretically form the logistical springboard for a ground invasion of Iran.
Until we see a force buildup nearing the 2007 plan, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. plans any offensive action in the region or against Iran.
An investigation by Citizen Labs has revealed that a group dubbed Endless Mayfly has been impersonating major media sites, using fake Twitter accounts to spread false articles and targeting journalists with fake stories.