Sunday, October 20, 2019 | ePaper

US sending more troops to Gulf, Trump announces Iran sanctions

  • Print


US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Friday.



The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.
Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.
The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.
Those attacks, combined with an Iranian attack on an American spy drone in June, represented a "dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.
The Pentagon chief announced that the United States would send military reinforcements to the Gulf region at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"In response to the kingdom's request, the president has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature, and primarily focused on air and missile defense," Esper said.
However Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford categorized the deployment as "moderate," with the number of troops not expected to reach the thousands.
Earlier in the day Trump attacked both critics who thought the mogul-turned-president would trigger war and hawks seeking a military response.
"The easiest thing I could do (is) knock out 15 different major things in Iran," Trump said.
"But I think the strong-person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint," he said.
Trump in June authorized a military strike after Iran shot down the US spy drone, only to call it off at the last moment.
Saudi Arabia on Friday revealed extensive damage from the strikes on state giant Aramco's facilities in Khurais and the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq.
The attacks, which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production, have been claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, but Washington has pointed its finger at Tehran, condemning the strikes as an "act of war."
Abqaiq was struck 18 times while nearby Khurais was hit four times in a raid that triggered multiple explosions and towering flames that took hours to extinguish, Aramco officials said.
Aramco flew dozens of international journalists to the two sites to show it was speeding up repairs, giving rare access to the nerve center of the world's largest oil producer as it seeks to shore up investor confidence ahead of a planned initial public offering (IPO).
Meanwhile, Yemen's Huthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks, unexpectedly announced late Friday that they planned to halt all strikes on the country.
The move, they said, was part of a peace initiative to end their country's devastating conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people - most of them civilians - and driven millions more to the brink of famine.
Iran denies US and Saudi accusations that it arms the Huthis. - New ground for sanctions .
The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution, due to Tehran's alleged nuclear program.
But the new sanctions Friday were imposed for the additional reason of "terrorism," Treasury said, adding that Iran's central bank had provided "billions of dollars" to two groups blacklisted by the United States.
"Treasury's action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Qods Force, Hezbollah and other militants that spread terror and destabilize the region," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The Qods Force conducts international operations for Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, while Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group and political party in Lebanon, is among Iran's closest regional partners.
Iran responded that the move showed that the United States was running out of options.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran's sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran's defense ministry.
Trump recently said that he hopes for talks with Rouhani, who responded that Trump must first ease sanctions.
Last year Trump pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran negotiated under former president Barack Obama, sending tensions soaring as he tried to stop all countries from buying Iran's oil.

More News For this Category

Some worries about nuclear weapons at Turkey base

Some worries about nuclear weapons at Turkey base

AP, Washington  :Frayed U.S. relations with Turkey over its incursion in Syria raise a sensitive question rarely discussed in public: Should the United States remove the nuclear bombs it has

Violence escalates in Barcelona after 500,000 separatists rally

Violence escalates in Barcelona after 500,000 separatists rally

AFP, Barcelona :Violent clashes escalated in Barcelona late Friday, as radical Catalan separatists hurled rocks and fireworks at police, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets, turning the city centre

Last Soviet leader Gorbachev urges Russia, US to hold nuclear talks

Last Soviet leader Gorbachev urges Russia, US to hold nuclear talks

Reuters, Moscow :Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, warned on Friday that the world was drifting into a dangerous era of militarised politics and appealed to Moscow and Washington to

Chile President declares state of emergency after violent protests

Chile President declares state of emergency after violent protests

AFP, Santiago :Chile's president declared a state of emergency in Santiago Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over increases in the

Lebanon paralysed by nationwide protests over proposed taxes

Lebanon paralysed by nationwide protests over proposed taxes

AP, Beirut :Nationwide protests paralyzed Lebanon on Friday as demonstrators blocked major roads in a second day of rallies against the government's management of a severe economic crisis and proposed

News In Brief

High-profile cases turn spotlight on domestic violence in RussiaAFP, MoscowNatalia Tunikova's partner pushed her towards the open balcony in their high-rise Moscow flat, before punching her to the floor. Fearing

Fighting in Kurdish-held Syrian town despite cease-fire

Fighting in Kurdish-held Syrian town despite cease-fire

AP, Ceylanpinar :Fighting continued Friday morning in a northeast Syrian border town at the center of the fight between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that went

Pompeo seeks to reassure Israel amid Syria turmoil

Pompeo seeks to reassure Israel amid Syria turmoil

AP, Jerusalem :Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israel's prime minister on Friday to reaffirm the countries' close ties at a time when many in Israel fear the

Venezuela wins seat on UN rights body despite opposition

Venezuela wins seat on UN rights body despite opposition

AP, United Nations :Venezuela won a contested election for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday despite a campaign by over 50 organizations and many countries

China wanted executive fired for supporting Hong Kong protests: NBA chief

China wanted executive fired for supporting Hong Kong protests: NBA chief

AFP, Washington :China demanded that a Houston Rockets executive be sacked for supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said.Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited