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US aircraft carrier deployed over Iran remains outside Gulf

Tensions with Iran have worsened since Donald Trump pulled America out of Iran’s nuclear deal last year and imposed sanctions on Tehran.

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (US Navy via AP)
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (US Navy via AP)

A US aircraft carrier the White House ordered to the Middle East over a perceived threat from Iran remains outside the Persian Gulf amid efforts to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The USS Abraham Lincoln was in the Arabian Sea on Monday, 200 miles off the coast of Oman.

While US Navy officials repeatedly declined to discuss why they had not gone through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, they insisted they remain ready to launch any mission in the region.

However, Captain Putnam Browne, commanding officer of the Lincoln, said: “You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something.”

The White House ordered the Lincoln and its strike group to speed to the Middle East in May. It also sent B-52 bombers and ordered hundreds of troops to the area.

Tensions with Tehran have worsened since President Donald Trump pulled America out of Iran’s nuclear deal last year and imposed sanctions.

On the 30th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, the USS Abraham Lincoln hosted journalists who spent four hours aboard the vessel after a two-hour flight from the United Arab Emirates and were greeted by camera-carrying sailors who documented every part of their four hours onboard.

The day before, the US Air Force announced a B-52 conducted a training exercise with the Lincoln that included “simulated strike operations”.

Thousands in Iran mark Khomeini’s death by visiting his golden shrine south of Tehran. This year, Iranian military officials reportedly plan to guard it with Hawk surface-to-air missiles, the same kind the US delivered to the Islamic Republic in the Iran-Contra scandal.

However, in recent days, the Trump administration has stressed it is ready to speak to the Iranians without preconditions.

Asked about why the Lincoln had not gone into the Persian Gulf, Rear Admiral John FG Wade, the commander of the carrier’s strike group, said his forces could “conduct my mission wherever and whenever needed”.

“They do impose a threat to our operations, but also to the safety and security of commerce and trade going through the Strait of Hormuz and that’s why we are here,” he said.

PA

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