Steinitz added that Iran may also choose to attack Israel by activating its proxies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Gaza’s Islamic Jihad.
“The American sanctions are breaking the neck of the Iranian economy, and a new and stronger wave [of sanctions] is still to come,” he warned, suggesting that the danger was unlikely to pass in the near future.
The unsourced report said the Iranians were “considering various hostile acts” against American or American-allied targets. Tehran had looked at targeting American bases in the Gulf, but that had been deemed too drastic a step, it claimed.
The US responded to the reported message, and to escalating rhetoric from Tehran, by saying it was moving significant military assets into the region, including an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, leading a larger naval strike group, sailed through the Suez Canal toward the Persian Gulf late last week.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened a “swift and decisive” American response to any attack by Iran.
“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“Our restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,” he said.
An American official said the decision to send in more forces was based in part on intelligence indicating that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.