WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday that there were indications that Iran could potentially carry out aggressive actions in the future, amid simmering tensions between Iran and the United States.
Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks on global energy infrastructure.
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"We also continue to see indications, and for obvious reasons I won't go into the details, that potential Iranian aggression could occur," John Rood, the Pentagon’s No. 3 official, told reporters.
Rood did not provide details about what information he was basing that on or any timeline.
"We've sent very clear and blunt signals to the Iranian government about the potential consequences of aggression," Rood said.
The United States has deployed thousands of additional military forces in the Middle East, including bombers and air defense personnel, to act as a deterrent against what Washington says is provocative Iranian behavior.
Rood's comments come as Iran has been facing weeks of sometimes violent protests against gasoline price hikes.
The unrest, which began on Nov. 15 after the government abruptly raised fuel prices by as much as 300 percent, spread to more than 100 cities and towns and turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded clerical leaders step down.
Tehran's clerical rulers have blamed "thugs" linked to its opponents in exile and the country’s main foreign foes – the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia – for the unrest.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)