Posted February 02, 2018 04:12:06 A new US strategy is expected to emerge in coming months, but some questions remain about what it will entail.
What will the US do in response to Tehran’s continued nuclear and ballistic missile development, and how will it respond to the growing number of threats from North Korea, China, Russia and others?
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The Pentagon has already announced a series of steps to strengthen its ability to respond to a range of potential threats.
First, the United States will seek to maintain and expand its “boots on the ground” capability, which has been a cornerstone of the military’s response to a number of regional crises, including Iran, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Syrian civil war.
The United States also plans to increase its “smart bomb” and “miniaturized nuclear warhead” capabilities, but has yet to elaborate on its plans for a specific deployment.
As the Trump administration’s national security advisor, retired Marine General James Mattis, told reporters in February, “we need to do more than just bomb.”
Mattis said the Trump-led national security team will also continue to develop a “strategic and policy framework” for countering Iran’s continued ballistic missile tests, and has called for an increase in military capabilities in Asia.
But while the Trump campaign pledged to “bomb the crap out of” Iran, as the New York Times reported in January, there is little evidence that this has been the case.
The administration has, however, been more assertive in its threats against North Korea and Russia.
The Trump administration has said it plans to expand the number of military bases in Asia to as many as 60, with the goal of establishing “near-term nuclear weapons capabilities in the Pacific region and the Middle East,” according to a recent Pentagon document.
These new deployments would come after Trump promised to “stop the bleeding” of the US military by making the Middle Eastern region “safe again.”
The Trump administration also plans on increasing the number and scope of US nuclear weapons in the region, and even to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in South Korea.
But it is unclear if these moves will be carried out in conjunction with the new military strategy.
As noted earlier, the Trump transition team has not specified what military strategy it is considering, and there are no concrete plans to address Iran.
Instead, there are multiple possibilities, ranging from a new “strategy of containment” to a “pre-emptive strike” against Iran.
While there is no official Pentagon document detailing a specific strategy for dealing with Iran, Mattis has said the military will “defend the United State” if the Trump team is unable to secure a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue.
Mattis said the United Kingdom and France “have not been a credible partner on the diplomatic front,” adding that “we’re going to continue to be a credible player on the military front.”
But, Mattis added, “our nuclear weapons will be at the ready.”
Mattes also told reporters that the United states would continue to engage in “regularly scheduled and coordinated, sustained pressure on Iran.”
He noted that “every day we see the Iranians, they have new threats, new actions.”
Mattis also stated that the Trump Administration would seek “to have the Iranian people be able to speak for themselves.”
What is Iran’s new military posture?
There have been some signs that Iran is looking to expand its military capabilities.
Earlier this month, Tehran reportedly sent an air defense system to the Gulf.
It was not immediately clear whether the system had been used in an actual attack, or if it was just a test, though Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that the system was “ready to go.”
In April, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a news conference that Tehran was preparing a new ballistic missile that could reach Alaska.
Khamenei also said Iran “will not abandon its deterrent capability” against “all threats, including threats to its sovereignty and the safety of its territory.”
While Iran has not deployed its new missile, Iran has reportedly sent “hundreds of” new troops into the region in recent months, and several analysts say Iran is planning to deploy more troops in the future.
According to Reuters, “Iran’s defense ministry says it is sending thousands of soldiers and more than 100 tanks to the Persian Gulf to bolster its forces in the Gulf region, where it has a military presence that is not comparable to the one in the Middle West.”
Iran’s nuclear program has been under pressure for years.
In December 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program posed a threat to the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.
At the time, Iranian officials said the IAEA report “is based on erroneous information and fabricated information.”
Iran has consistently denied any enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons, and it has not provided any evidence to back up the assertion.
Iran’s ballistic missile program, which Iran has been conducting