By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has credited the sending of U.S. firepower to the Middle East with countering any threats from Iran or its proxy forces, signaling a break in tensions following a sharp rise in mutual threats and provocations.
"We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon.
"I really want to underscore the credibility of the intelligence," he added.
The Pentagon chief's remarks come after the deployment of a U.S. carrier strike group, bomber task force and Patriot missile defense battery to the Middle East in what Shanahan said was in response to a "credible threat" to Washington and its interests in the region.
The threats continued to come from both sides, with Iran announcing it would curtail its compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the accord in May 2018.
"Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter. "#NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!"
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that if Iran wanted to fight, it would be "the official end" of the country.
Shanahan's remarks pointed to an easing of tensions between the two sides, but he said the threats have not been eliminated.
"Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region," he said.
*Kasim Ileri contributed to this report