The U.S. military has reportedly found that "Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies" were behind the attacks on four ships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend which could lead to a major escalation in conflict in the region.
The Associated Press reported that a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "said each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, and the team’s early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges."
"The team of U.S. military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened or any proof as yet about the possible Iranian involvement in the explosions," the AP added. "Gulf officials have characterized the damage to the tankers as sabotage. Two Saudi oil tankers, a Norwegian-flagged vessel, and a bunkering tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, all suffered similar damage Sunday."
The New York Times reported late on Monday that the Trump administration is reviewing updated military plans for dealing with Iran should Iran attack U.S. forces or ramp up its nuclear weapons program.
“At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons,” the Times reported. “The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops.”
President Donald Trump warned Iran on Monday about the continuing escalation of tensions and conflict in the Middle East, saying that if Iran does "anything" they will "suffer greatly."
"Are we going to war with Iran?" a reporter asked the president in the White House. "Are you seeking regime change?"
"We’ll see what happens with Iran," Trump responded. "If they do anything it will be a very bad mistake, if they do anything. I’m hearing little stories about Iran. If they do anything, they will suffer greatly. We’ll see what happens with Iran."
Trump was later asked if he was concerned about the ships that were bombed over the weekend in the Persian Gulf.
"We’ll see what happens," Trump responded. "It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens, I can tell you that. They’re not going to be happy. They are not going to be happy people."
"What do you mean by that?" the reporter asked.
"You can figure it out yourself," Trump fired back. "They know what I mean by it."
Last week, the Trump administration deployed "the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force," national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement.