March 12, 2020
The commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), Marine Corps General Kenneth Franklin “Frank” McKenzie Jr., accused Tehran of threatening free navigation and trade in the Middle East.
In a tweet on Tuesday, March 10, General Mckenzie asserted that CENTCOM’s aim was confronting the Islamic Republic of Iran’s threats.
Also, speaking at the U.S. Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, General Mckenzie defended Washington’s policy to exert maximum pressure on Tehran. He insisted that as long as the constraints on Iran continued, the CENTCOM should use its presence and position in the region to prevent the Islamic Republic’s military power from disrupting Washington sanctions imposed on Tehran.
On February 19, a U.S. military spokesman had announced that a large shipment of Iranian-made weapons seized by the Navy on February 9, in the Arabian Sea, was being transported illegally to Houthi rebels. Tehran has supported Houthis in Yemen’s five-year-old civil war.
The weapons seized by sailors aboard the USS Normandy included Iranian copies of Russian armaments and others “uniquely designed by Iran and found nowhere else in the world,” said Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman for U.S. Central Command, on February 19.
In his Tuesday comments, Marine General Mckenzie noted that American forces’ presence in the area is a “clear signal” to Iran, reflecting the U.S. willpower and capabilities in defending Washington’s interests and its allies against the Islamic Republic.
Moreover, General Mckenzie affirmed that the CENTCOM’s next step would be deploying forces in the region, capable of conducting operations needed for consistently containing Iran, and confront Tehran’s future threats with flexibility.
In the meantime, General McKenzie referred to Tehran’s nuclear program and vowed that the U.S. strategy was blocking all routes that might lead to arming the Islamic Republic with nuclear weapons and neutralizing Iran’s evil influence.
The authorities in the clergy-dominated Iran have repeatedly denied seeking nuclear bombs.