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  6.  » US Carrier Battle Group Returns to Gulf: Is Trump Preparing Strike Iran Before He Leaves Office?

US deploys aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf ‘as cover for troops leaving Iraq and Afghanistan’ after assassination of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist – as it’s claimed Saudi Arabia has reservations about strikes on Iranian facilities

  • The USS Nimitz is being sent to the Persian Gulf by the Pentagon, according to a report by CNN
  • Deployment is aimed at securing the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is claimed
  • There is growing chatter about possible military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities before Trump leaves office
  • Report claims Israel is pushing the US to hit Iran’s nuclear sites, but Saudi Arabia is said to have reservations
  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘expressed reluctance while meeting Netanyahu and Pompeo’
  • Regional tensions are high after a top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated, state media confirmed 
  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was killed in car following explosion and then machine gun fire near to Tehran
  • His death comes two years after Israel’s Premier Netanyahu warned the world to ‘remember that name’ 
  • Images of the aftermath show blood pooled on road by a car – with a windscreen peppered with bullet holes 
  • Iranian military adviser accused Israel of launching attack to ‘intensify pressure’ and create ‘full-blown war’

 Ariel Zilber, Jemma Carr – Daily Mail.com Nov 27, 2020

The United States military has deployed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf alongside other warships in order to provide ‘combat support and air cover’ for soldiers withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The deployment comes as tensions in the region have ratcheted up following the assassination on Friday of a top scientist who headed Iran’s nuclear program.

The decision to deploy the Nimitz to the Persian Gulf was made before the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi – a physics professor and former officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran on Friday accused Israel of trying to provoke a war by assassinating Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had named as the father of the rogue nation’s nuclear program.

Scene of the attack after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Click to enlarge

One American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed to the New York Times that Israel was behind the attack.

Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was killed in an ambush involving an explosion and then machine gun fire on the road between the countryside town of Absard and the capital of Tehran.

Iranian state TV said explosives hidden in a pickup exploded in front of the car, scattering debris hundreds of yards, before up to six gunmen emerged from another car and opened fire, the Times reported.

Those wounded in the attack were rushed to a local hospital but medics were unable to revive Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.

Iran said there are ‘serious indications of Israeli responsibility’ in the assassination, saying it reserves the right to defend itself.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Iranian envoy, Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote: ‘Warning against any adventuristic measures by the United States and Israel against my country, particularly during the remaining period of the current administration of the United States in office, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its rights to take all necessary measures to defend its people and secure its interests.’

The Trump administration has set a January 15 deadline for the US military to draw down its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel has reportedly been pushing for the outgoing Trump administration to deal a heavy blow to Iran’s nuclear program by bombing key reactors.

But Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is said to have met in secret with Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Sunday, is reluctant to go along with the plan, Middle East Eye reported.

Netanyahu made the demand during the trilateral meeting in Neom, a Saudi resort town along the coast of the Red Sea.

Bin Salman reportedly expressed serious reservations about an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, citing two reasons – the recent strikes against Saudi oil targets that are believed to have been carried out by pro-Iranian forces; and what he believes will be the incoming Biden administration’s policies.

If the Trump administration orders its military to strike Iran, it could then lead to an escalation across the region involving Israel, the Saudis, and the Gulf States.

President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20, has already said he is committed to returning to the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, which the Trump administration pulled out of.

‘In the meeting Netanyahu was advocating hitting Iran,’ Saudi sources told Middle East Eye.

‘Pompeo did not commit either way.’

In 2018 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu cited Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, saying “remember that name”. Click to enlarge

Days after Trump lost the November 3 election to Biden, the president asked for options on attacking Iran’s main nuclear site, but ultimately decided against taking the dramatic step, US officials said.

Trump made the request during an Oval Office meeting on November 12 with his top national security aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the official said.

Bin Salman is reportedly concerned that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could send regional tensions spinning out of control, possibly engulfing his own kingdom.

The state has already suffered attacks in recent weeks, which they fear could spiral out of control.

Earlier this week, an explosion damaged a Greek-managed tanker at a Saudi Arabian terminal on the Red Sea just north of the Yemeni border, the ship’s manager said on Wednesday.

The attack was confirmed by Saudi Arabia.

In a statement published by state media, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said a commercial vessel suffered minor damage from shrapnel in what it described as a foiled terrorist attack.

Two weeks ago, a fire near a floating platform belonging to the Jazan oil products terminal was contained with no injuries.

That fire was the result of another attempted Houthi attack, in which the Saudi-led coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats in the southern Red Sea.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Houthis regarding the latest incident.

The Saudis believe these attacks are ‘clear proxy messages from Iran.’

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