Tensions escalate between U.S., Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – There’s escalating tension between the United States and Iran amid fears of a possible military confrontation.

American firepower is poised near the Persian Gulf, exercising in recent days to respond to what the US calls threats from Iran.

Now, new threats from President Trump as he is ramping up his rhetoric. “They’ve been very hostile,” the president said. “They’ve truly been the number one provocateur of terror. We have no indication that anything has happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force.”

This follows his tweet, threatening the “official end of Iran” if it wants to fight.

Iran’s foreign minister responded with “#NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!”

The United Nations Secretary-General is asking everyone to “lower the rhetoric”.

The president also signaling that he’s ready to talk with Iran. “If they called, we would certainly negotiate, but that’s going to be up to them,” he said.

It’s not just the rhetoric. A rocket in Iraq Sunday set nerves jangling.

Though it landed half a mile from the US embassy, it prompted a strong warning from the US to Iranian backed militias here.

Iran has powerful allies, proxy forces, across the Middle East with at least a dozen militias in Iraq. Groups in Syria are now battle hardened. The powerful Hezbollah, which dominates Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, backs, finances or arms all of these groups.

US intelligence officials have briefed Congress on what they call Iranian “threat streams” to the US in Iraq prompting Trump ally Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to tweet: “If the Iranian threats are activated, we must deliver an overwhelming military response,” adding “Stand firm, Mr. President.”

Iran’s President Rouhani responded Tuesday morning, saying he favors “talks and diplomacy with the US but right now that’s not possible”. So he’s not ruling it out but he says “we have to resist for now”.

Iran is also appealing to the UN, saying the security situation is alarming. And on that, most people in this region would agree.

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