F-22 Raptors Qatar—The United States has for the first time deployed F-22 Raptors aircraft in Qatar, the Pentagon announced on Friday, further increasing the US military presence in the Gulf, amidst rising tensions with Iran.
The F-22 Raptors were deployed “to defend American forces and interests,” the US General Command announced in a statement, which did not specify the number of aircraft sent.
Tehran and Washington have been engaged in a verbal escalation since US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions against Iran.
In return, Tehran announced on May 8 its intention to gradually dissolve its commitments if the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese did not help it bypass the US measures.
A new spike of tension was reached when Iran shot down an American drone on June 20 after a series of attacks of unknown origin against tankers attributed by Washington to Tehran, which Iran denied.
In May, the United States, speaking of a possible Iranian plan of attack on US forces in the region, had deployed an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, as well as B-52 Stratofortress bombers, capable of carrying nuclear missiles.
US President Donald Trump Last week announced new US sanctions against Iran to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, adding that military action against the Islamic Republic remains a possibility.
“In some cases, we proceed slowly, but in other cases, we move quickly,” said the US president before leaving for Camp David.
He made this comment to White House reporters as he reconsidered his cancellation, at the last minute, of reprisal strikes against Iran following the destruction of a US military drone the week before.
“We will not let Iran get nuclear weapons, and when they accept that, they will have a rich country, they will be so happy, and I will be their best friend. I hope that happens,” the president said.
Almost at the same time, the Iranian news agency IRIB had reported that Iran had executed in recent days a former contract employee of the aerospace organization of the Ministry of Defense who was spying for the benefit of the CIA.
Jalal Haji Zavar had left his post nine years ago. He was convicted by a military court after the discovery of compromising documents and equipment for espionage at his home.
He was executed at Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, the agency adds, without mentioning the date of execution or other details.
Deciding to save the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program concluded in 2015, which the United States withdrew from three years later, the European signatories promised the establishment of a device named Instex, supposed to compensate the American sanctions.
But the program has fallen behind, and Tehran finds these efforts insufficient.
On May 8, the Islamic Republic gave the other signatories 60 days to implement their promises, failing which it threatens to no longer respect the provisions of the agreement. We need a political solution, and that’s what we are working on, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday during a trip to Frankfurt.
She added that the Iran case would be discussed at the next G20 meeting next week in Japan.
According to diplomatic sources, French, British and Germans are preparing a new initiative to try to preserve the hard-negotiated text with Tehran.