US Continues to Escalate Tensions, Raising Fear of Imminent War With Iran

CLAIM Katyusha missiles are widely used by militants in the Middle East

He expressed hope that Japan and other USA allies will take "practical measures in order to maintain this valuable worldwide agreement". The U.S. Embassy called the measures "appropriate given the current security conditions", but did not name any specific threats. Khamenei's comments late Tuesday came after Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a coordinated drone attack on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a visit to Tokyo on May 16 that Tehran was showing "maximum restraint" despite the USA withdrawal from the nuclear accord and he accused Washington of an "unacceptable" escalation of the crisis.

The dissenting officials, sources said, were concerned that the document politicized and skewed assessments against Iran.

Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister accused Iran on Thursday of ordering the drone attacks on two Aramco pumping stations as a "tool to implement its expansionist agenda in the region". But in Iraq, Saddam Hussein's overthrow mired the a hugely expensive war, one that cost trillions of dollars and took over 500,000 lives. The country hosts more than 5,000 USA troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those US forces to leave.

Iran has officially stopped some commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers following an order from its national security council - less than a week after the Islamic Republic notified China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom of its decision, in response to Europe's failed attempts to bypass USA sanctions that effectively crippled Tehran's economy.

Despite rising fears of how misunderstandings between the two countries could escalate into a full-blown conflict, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Saturday that the "not going to miscalculate".

While the European powers-Germany, France and the UK-have formally declared their continued support for the nuclear accord, they have failed to mount any credible challenge to the United States sanctions regime, depriving Iran of the promised benefits of the deal in terms of normalization of trade and investment. "There is no infighting whatsoever", Trump said. In short, Iran needs its friends in Europe, notwithstanding the fact that European Union nations have repeatedly failed over the past year to give Iran the economic benefits of remaining in the nuclear deal.

Iraq is home to powerful pro-Iranian militias, while also hosting more than 5,000 USA troops. If not, the United States would respond with force.

He told senior officials that his country won't negotiate with the USA, calling such talks "poison", but he also said, "Neither we, nor them is seeking war". Military action by the US may topple the Iranian regime, but as the Iraq War demonstrated, that's hardly a victory.

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However, "the main factor in favour of maintaining a cold peace is the strong opposition to war among people in both countries", the analyst told AFP.

On May 5, Trump's hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and a B-52 bomber force to the Gulf.

Iran must abandon all its allies in the Middle East - Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza - pull all forces under Iranian command out of Syria, and then disarm all its Shiite militia in Iraq.

Earlier today, all "nonemergency USA government employees" at both the embassy in Baghdad and the United States consulate in Erbil were ordered to leave Iraq, The New York Times reported.

Blasts involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, the advisory warned, adding that normal visa services would be suspended.

But Germany and the Netherlands said Wednesday that they were suspending training of soldiers in Iraq due to a "generally heightened" state of alert.

The Houthis said they were responsible for the attack, which did not disrupt oil output or exports.

"We don't seek a war, nor do they", he said. For the USA, losing its influence in Iraq because of its Iran policy would be a major strategic blunder.

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