The US deployed B-52 long-range bombers to the Middle East on Saturday in what is seen as a message to Iran and a show of force in the region after the announcement of partial troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“US Air Force B-52H ‘Stratofortress’ aircrews assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, ND, conducted a short-notice, long-range mission into the Middle East on Nov. 21 to deter aggression and reassure US partners and allies,” US Central Command said in a statement.
The deployment of the bombers came after a report from The New York Times said President Trump reviewed options to strike an Iranian nuclear site but was talked out of pulling the trigger by his top advisors. One of those advisors was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was asked about a potential attack on Iran in an interview in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
When asked by The National if a military strike on Iran was being considered, Pompeo said: “The President of the United States always retains the right to do what’s needed to ensure that Americans are safe. It’s been our policy for four years. It’ll be our policy, so long as we have the responsibility to keep America protected.”
According to The Associated Press, a State Department official who was traveling with Pompeo was asked about the Times report that said Trump mulled a strike on Iran. The official said, “all options are on the table” and that the Trump administration “will continue to pursue its policies until it’s not in office anymore.”
The Trump administration is ramping up its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran to make it difficult for a Biden administration to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Last week, the US slapped new sanctions on Iran, and more are expected in the coming weeks.