Nimitz has been patrolling the Gulf waters since late November, but US media reported this week that Christopher Miller, Acting Defense Secretary, had ordered the aircraft carrier to return to its base.
The “New York Times” newspaper had quoted US officials as saying that this step is a sign of “de-escalation” directed at Tehran to avoid the occurrence of a clash in the last days of outgoing President Donald Trump in office.
On Sunday, however, Miller issued a counter-statement saying that “given recent threats by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials, I have ordered the aircraft carrier Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment.”
“USS Nimitz will now remain in its position in the US Central Command’s area of operations. Nobody should question the resolve of the United States of America. ”
This statement comes a year after the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Major General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, in an American air strike near Baghdad airport.
That strike sparked the forty-year-old hostility between Tehran and Washington, in addition to fears of a confrontation in Iraq, where both of them have wide influence.
Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated on Sunday on the first anniversary of the killing of Soleimani and the engineer, chanting slogans including “No America” and “Revenge.”
In Iran, several events were held to commemorate Soleimani.
On the eve of the memorial, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet Thursday that “Israeli provocative agents are planning to launch attacks on Americans in Iraq” to put US President Donald Trump in trouble over a fabricated war.
On Sunday evening, Zarif considered the US president to be the “main terrorist.”
Tehran accused the outgoing US President of seeking to create an “excuse” to launch a “war” before leaving the White House on January 20, after a mandate during which he launched a campaign of “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
Trump accused Tehran of being behind a missile attack on the US embassy in Baghdad on December 20.
The hard-line positions of Tehran and Washington over the past year have raised fears of a conflict between the two parties, for which Iraq will be the scene.
On Saturday, Zarif accused Israel of being involved in this plot.
Two American “B-52” fighters, capable of transporting nuclear weapons, flew over the Gulf region on December 10, while the aircraft carrier “USS Nimitz” was sailing at the end of November in the Gulf waters.