A Pentagon official told Fox News that the US again deployed B-52 bombers to the Middle East, ratcheting up tensions with Iran. The provocative flight marks the fourth time since November that the US sent long-range bombers to the region to threaten Iran.
The official said two B-52 bombers flew a 36-hour, non-stop mission from Minot Air Base in North Dakota to the Persian Gulf and back. A similar mission from Minot was announced on December 30th.
The frequent B-52 flights started in November, after a report surfaced in the media that said President Trump reviewed options to attack an Iranian nuclear site. Trump considered the strike after minor Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal were reported, an agreement the US first violated in 2018.
The latest flight comes after Iran confirmed it was starting to enrich uranium up to 20 percent for its civilian nuclear program. The increased enrichment was a response to the assassination of prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in an apparent Israeli plot.
In recent weeks, the US has also announced the transit of a nuclear-powered submarine through the Strait of Hormuz and decided to keep the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the region, citing Iranian “threats.”
With the incoming Biden administration expected to return to diplomacy with Tehran, the Iranians have no reason to provoke the US into a military confrontation in the coming weeks.