U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper noted that the “[we] continually assess the situation and make sure we have the right degree of forces in position to deter Iranian bad behaviour, and if necessary, to respond and respond forcefully in a way that they understand that we're serious about defending our friends, reassuring our allies and preventing them from misbehaving”. Asked whether he believed that “the threat from Iran is increasing”, Esper replied: “I think you could make that assessment given the effectiveness of the maximum pressure campaign, given what's happening in the streets of Iran these days… you see a regime increasingly under stress. I think we need to be prepared for any contingency”. He further maintained that “there have been reports in the public space about rockets being fired at American forces on bases in Iraq. So we've seen a little bit of an uptick there. And that's, again, another indicator for us of Iran reaching out”. “As they experience more stress, I need to be ensured that we have sufficient forces on the ground again, to reassure our allies help defend them, defend the international order and deter Iranian bad behavior”, Esper added.
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