TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “I think our steps were very prudent and we’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans and that is what is extremely important,” Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
“We're in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians,” he added.
He was asked to clarify whether the so-called threat from Iran was diminished or reduced, Shanahan replied, “There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold.”
However, he added that the hold “doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away.”
“Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region,” he said.
The tensions, originally built up when President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saw a sharp rise on the first anniversary of Washington's exit from the accord after the US moved to ratchet up the pressure on Iran.
Washington has recently tightened its oil sanctions on Iran and sent military reinforcements, including an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles, to the Persian Gulf region.
On May 5, US National Security Adviser John Bolton — an ardent Iran hawk — said the deployment was in response to “troubling and escalatory indications” of Iranian activity in the region, without giving details or evidence to support the claims.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that the United States is “playing a very, very dangerous game” by beefing up its military presence in the region.
In an exclusive interview with the CNN on Tuesday, Zarif criticized the US for sending military reinforcements to the Middle East.
“Having all these military assets in a small waterway is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are interested in accidents. So extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game,” the Iranian foreign minister said.