Following Iran’s brazen nuclear-capable ballistic missile test over the weekend, the U.S. is deploying an aircraft carrier to the region.
USS John C. Stennis and its support ships are en route to the Persian Gulf in the first U.S. military activity in the region in some eight months, a presence intended to act as a show of force against Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
A carrier has not been deployed to the region since the USS Theodore Roosevelt departed in March, leaving the region unoccupied by U.S. forces for the longest period in two decades.
The ships will reach the region by the end of the week and will remain in place for approximately two months. One official told the Wall Street Journal that the ship being in the area “certainly provides a deterrence” against Iranian hostility.
The #Navy‘s USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group is underway in the 7th Fleet. See more with this week’s #NavalUpdateMap. https://t.co/60ipxFeabm
— Stratfor (@Stratfor) November 29, 2018
Despite Iran’s recent missile testing, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal that the carrier’s deployment was previously scheduled, and it has been at sea since October.
The carrier will reportedly “provide a lot of great flexibility,” according to one defense official.
Over the weekend, Iran carried out a test of a ballistic missile that is capable of carrying multiple warheads, and can strike anywhere in the Middle East and much of Europe.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the launch and its violation of a missile ban set in place by the United Nations.
“This test violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that bans Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” Pompeo said in a statement Saturday.
.@SecPompeo: Iranian regime just test-fired a medium range ballistic missile capable of striking Europe & the Middle East. This violates #UNSC Res. 2231. #Iran’s missile testing & proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation if we fail to restore deterrence. pic.twitter.com/ZEKPpHI6Ij
— Department of State (@StateDept) December 1, 2018
Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy to Iran, also confirmed the launch to reporters early Monday during a flight to Brussels where Pompeo joined NATO meetings.
“Iran has launched missiles that are capable of carrying multiple warheads, including a nuclear weapon,” Hook said, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
Special Rep. Hook: Few days ago, we unveiled new evidence of #Iran’s missile proliferation. Three days later they test-launched a ballistic missile. We are accumulating risk of regional conflict if we don’t deter Iran’s missile testing and proliferation. https://t.co/p2v1JlJKgA pic.twitter.com/k2ATTB2clH
— Department of State (@StateDept) December 3, 2018
Iran claimed the missile test was “defensive in nature” and thus an exception to the U.N. resolution.
“The Iranian government claims that its missile testing is completely defensive in nature. How exactly is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism entitled to the claim of defense?” Hook asked
“For the last 12 years, the United Nations Security Council has been telling the Iranian regime to stop testing and proliferating ballistic missiles, and Iran continues to defy the U.N. Security Council,” Hook said. “Iran’s continued testing and proliferation of ballistic missiles shows that the Iran deal has not moderated the Iranian regime as some had hoped.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Iran’s missile launch was a significant act which proved that the nation would not be undeterred from its pursuit of missiles.
He added that the threat of Iran “could grow beyond that [of North Korea] if it’s not dealt with.”