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US deploying anti-missile systems in Persian Gulf

The Patriot missile defence system. A File Photo

WASHINGTON (PTI): As it mulled imposing tougher sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear ambitions, the US is accelerating the deployment of its military assets against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries.

President Barack Obama spoke of the shift in his first State of the Union address on January 27, warning of “consequences” if Iran continued to defy United Nations’ demands to stop manufacturing nuclear fuel.

The countries that accepted the defence systems were Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, The New York Times reported, quoting US military officials as saying.

They said the Kuwaitis had agreed to take the defensive weapons to supplement older, less capable models it has had for years. Saudi Arabia and Israel have long had similar equipment of their own.

The news that the US is deploying Patriot antimissile defences appears to be part of a coordinated administration strategy to increase pressure on Iran, the paper said.

The deployments are also partly intended to counter the impression that Iran is fast becoming the most powerful military force in the Middle East, to forestall any Iranian escalation of its confrontation with the West if new sanctions are imposed, it paper said.

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