United States warns against Iranian 'threatening actions'

Three F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi after landing at Al Dhafra Air Base United Arab Emirates

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Iraq yesterday, a surprise trip that comes amid escalating tensions with Iran.

Mr Pompeo's visit comes as Iran warned it will resume uranium enrichment unless the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal - France, Britain, Germany, China and Russian Federation - can show it is worth pursuing.

While in Iraq, Pompeo met separately with President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

"The message that we've sent to the Iranians, I hope, puts us in a position where we can deter and the Iranians will think twice about attacking American interests", Pompeo said, noting that U.S. intelligence was "very specific" about "attacks that were imminent".

In addition, Pompeo said he expressed USA support for Iraqi sovereignty.

On Wednesday, also known as the one-year mark of U.S. withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal, Washington slapped fresh sanctions on the iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors of Iran, aiming to further deprive Tehran's export revenue.

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The visit came two days after US national security adviser John Bolton said the United States was deploying the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force to the region because of a "credible threat by Iranian regime forces".

The "campaign to continue to prevent ISIS terror inside of Iraq itself is something that's very central ... to the Iraqi government", Pompeo said.

"We've made clear that if the risk exceeds the threshold for the United States, we simply won't be able to share that information any longer", he said last month.

In Iraq, a debate has been raging in recent months over the fate of some 5,200 United States troops stationed across the country. "This is an obligation that Iraq would honour, (and) not accept any attack on anyone whether Iraqi, foreigner, whether it's an embassy or a company or a military mission", he said.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reinstated punishing sanctions, including those targeting Iran's oil, shipping and banking sectors. Among the Iraqis attending both meetings was Foreign Minister Muhammed Ali al-Hakim. German parliamentary foreign affairs committee chair Norbert Roettgen said that "even if the reasons for the rejection are unavoidable, it, unfortunately, fits in with the current climate in the relationship between the two governments".

In London, Pompeo will meet Prime Minister Theresa May who is grappling with a three-year political crisis over the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union.

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