USA issues security alert ordering non-emergency staff to depart Iraq

Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr

"The United States Congress must do everything it can", said Sanders, "to prevent the Trump administration's attempts to put us on the brink of a catastrophic and unconstitutional war with Iran that could lead to even more deaths than the Iraq War".

Tuesday's attacks and Sunday's attacks on four tankers off Fujairah emirate have raised concerns that the United States and Iran might inching toward military conflict.

Spain announced that it was pulling its frigate from a US-led naval group that is headed for the Gulf, telling reporters that the "US Government has taken a decision outside of the framework of what had been agreed with the Spanish Navy".

"We believe that escalation by the USA is unacceptable and uncalled for", Zarif told Kono in front of reporters before they met privately.

"But this threat is serious and we want to reduce the risk of harm".

Recent days have brought allegations of sabotage attacks targeting oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline claimed by Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels, and the dispatch of US warships and bombers to the region. It has said it will keep strong ties with Iran, and also with the United States and Arab neighbors, some of whom, such as Saudi Arabia, consider Tehran a rival.

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On Wednesday, the USA ordered non-essential government staff to leave Iraq over what it said is an increased threat of attack.

Please. As the Times story itself notes, the "military plan" to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East is merely an updated version of old contingency planning - advance thinking on how to respond if Iran hits United States forces or speeds up its nuke program.

Al-Jazeera cited an anonymous official on Wednesday night as saying that Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had traveled to Tehran in recent days to speak with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Some analysts think that reports that the United States is considering options to dramatically increase the number of troops it has in the Middle East are part of a pressure campaign against Iran.

A senior European diplomat voiced skepticism that Trump's "maximum pressure" strategy would force Iran to capitulate.

Last week, Iran notified non-U.S. signatories of the nuclear deal-China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK-of its decision to halt some commitments under the nuclear deal.

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"As we pointed out previously, Mr. Trump is in danger of being cornered into choosing between a counterproductive use of force and allowing Iran to cross red lines". That includes in Irbil and Baghdad, in our facilities in Oman, all around the Middle East and so anytime we receive threat reporting we do everything we can both to do all that we can to make sure those planned or contemplated attacks don't take place and to make sure we have the right security posture. But other than Netanyahu, these parties have kept quiet this week. On Sunday, four oil tankers-including two sailing under Saudi Arabian flags, one of which was set to deliver crude oil to the U.S.

Saudi Arabia's Cabinet said that the "terrorist attack" reflected poorly on regional and global security, the Saudi Press agency reported.

Tehran has called the USA military presence "a target" rather than a threat, and said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

However, US President Donald Trump denied a New York Times report that US officials were discussing a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter any attack or nuclear weapons acceleration by Iran.

"Abu Dhabi wants these actions", Karasik said of the tension with Iran, "and Saudi [Arabia] tags along".

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