The latest on the US-Iran crisis
The Pentagon is planning to begin the deployment of six B-52 aircraft to the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean on Monday, according to a US official. The B-52s will be available for operations against Iran if ordered, the official said.
Remember: The deployment does not signal that operations have been ordered. The Pentagon has traditionally deployed long range bombers and other aircraft as a sign of US force presence and capability.
Last year, six B-52s deployed to Qatar when tensions with Iran began rising. But this time Diego Garcia was chosen to keep the aircraft out of the range of Iranian missiles, the official said.
President Trump continued to defend the airstrike that killed Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, saying the action has made the US “a lot safer” and that the Obama and Bush administrations should have taken action and killed Soleimani.
On whether Iran will respond to the strike, Trump, speaking in an interview with Rush Limbaugh, said: “We’ll see what the response is, if any.”
“This should have been done for the last 15 to 20 years — him in particular,” Trump said, calling Soleimani a “terrorist.”
Trump continued to criticize former President Barack Obama, saying Obama designated Soleimani a “terrorist" and did “nothing” about it. Trump also criticized the Iran deal.
“We’re a lot safer now because of it,” Trump told Limbaugh.
International nuclear inspectors remain at work in Iran, despite the Islamic republic's pulling back from the international nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the International Atomic Energy Agency announced today.
“Our inspectors continue to verify and monitor activities in the country,” the nuclear watchdog tweeted.
More on this: Iran said Sunday that it would no longer limit itself to the restrictions laid out in the 2015 nuclear deal.
Soldiers deploying overseas with the 82nd Airborne Division will not be allowed to bring personal cellphones or any electronic devices that could reveal their locations due to what the Army calls "operational security,” according to division spokesperson Lt. Col. Michael Burns.
Burns acknowledged the decision is unusual given that many troops routinely deployed already do have personal electronic devices and can even purchase them overseas. The decision, he said, was made in part because the elements of the 82nd that are deploying are part of a rapid response forces and it's not clear where they may eventually be sent.
“We are not going to put our soldiers at risk,” he said.
Burns said the division is trying to keep families fully informed about the deployment and that phone centers would be established for soldiers to make calls eventually.
"This is not the normal kind of deployment. The decision 100% an operational security and force protection measure," said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, the commanding general.
The European Foreign Affairs Council will hold a special meeting on Friday as tensions skyrocket in Iraq and Iran following the killing of Iranian military commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell announced today.
The EU is “deeply concerned” by Iran’s declaration it will no longer respect the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said today.
Von der Leyen said EU countries “have to convince Iran that it’s also in its own interest” to return to the nuclear deal.
“After the devastation wrought by Da’esh [ISIS], Iraq is developing well and its people deserve to see the continuation of progress towards reconstruction and greater stability,” von der Leyen said in a statement.
House members will also receive a briefing about Iran on Wednesday afternoon, although a specific time has not been established yet, a House Democratic aide said.
Senators are also set to receive a briefing from key administration officials on Wednesday, as CNN reported earlier today.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will speak about Iran at 3 p.m. ET on the Senate floor, according to an aide.
Chevron has evacuated all of its American oil workers from the Kurdistan region in the northern part of Iraq following last week’s US airstrike in Baghdad.
Chevron, America’s No. 2 oil company, said in a statement today that as a “precautionary measure” its expatriate employees and contractors have left the region “for the time being.”
“The safety of our people and facilities is Chevron’s top priority globally,” a Chevron spokesperson told CNN.
Local staff are overseeing Chevron’s ongoing operations in the Kurdistan region, the company said.
The Chevron evacuation comes after the Iraqi oil ministry said Friday that “a number of” Americans working in southern Iraq were leaving the country after the United States urged its citizens to immediately depart due to soaring tensions.
When State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus was asked today in an interview with CNN about President Trump's suggestion that cultural centers could be targeted by the US in response to Iranian retaliation, Ortagus said that the Administration "will do anything within our power to protect American citizens."
"I think what President Trump and Secretary Pompeo and the President's National Security Team will do, what we have said, we will do anything within our power to protect American citizens, to protect American lives and we consistently told the Iranian regime any attack that on Americans, any attack that will put Americans in harm's way, whether it's from the militias we saw in Iraq or whether it's regime itself would not go unaccounted for. So, we will defend ourselves, we will defend our allies, we will defend our people and do anything that's obviously legally possible for us to do so."
What this is all about: In a tweet Saturday night, Trump said that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, the United States has targeted 52 Iranian sites — a reference to the number of Americans taken hostage in the 1979 revolution — "some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture," he wrote.
However, an attack on a cultural site would violate several international treaties and would likely be considered a war crime.