‘The announcement from Barack Obama’s administration that it is siting Patriot missiles in four Gulf states marks not a defensive but an aggressive act,’ said Stop the War Coalition yesterday.
Stop the War added: ‘The “defensive shield” marks an escalation of the situation in the Middle East, and in particular a greater level of aggression against Iran.
‘The missiles are supposedly about protecting the region in the face of attack by Iran.
‘In reality, Iran has faced repeated aggression from US allies in the region, particularly Israel.
‘Israel is the only nuclear weapons armed state in the region and is desperate to halt Iran’s nuclear power programme, despite evidence that the country is nowhere near developing nuclear weapons.
‘This move, following on from Tony Blair’s evidence at last week’s Chilcot inquiry which mentioned Iran 58 times, should be a warning to all those who oppose the further spread of the “war on terror”.
‘The US and British governments seem to have learnt nothing from the failures of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and are recklessly taking us closer to war.
‘The Stop the War Coalition is committed to campaigning against any attack on Iran.’
Tensions between the US and Iran rose yesterday in the wake of statements by White House officials, said over the weekend, that the US was speeding up arms sales to a number of Gulf Arab states and that it had also deployed warships capable of knocking down hostile missiles in flight to the region.
The moves include the sales of anti-missile systems to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, and are designed to deter Iran.
The deployments come as the Obama administration sought a tough new round of UN sanctions against Tehran.
Iranian MP, Hassan Sobhani-niya said that the matter would ‘probably’ be discussed by the Majlis (parliament) national security and foreign policy committee today.
The Obama administration sent a review of ballistic missile strategy to Congress yesterday.
Attention to ‘defence’ of the Persian Gulf region, a focus on diffuse networks of sensors and weapons and cooperation with Russia are major elements of the study.
In remarks at Georgetown Law School on January 21, Centcom chief General Petraeus said the US now has eight Patriot missile batteries stationed in the Gulf region, two each in four countries, naming just Kuwait.
A military official said on Saturday that the three other countries are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.
In a presentation on January 22 at the Institute for the Study of War, Petraeus explicitly linked the actions to concerns about Iran.
He added that as well as Patriot missiles ‘Aegis ballistic missile cruisers are in the Gulf at all times now’.
Meanwhile, the US yesterday launched its largest military exercise in the Pacific in cooperation with Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, with South Korea also joining in.
The ‘Cobra Gold’ exercise runs until February 11 and will see soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from the six countries taking part in operations across Thailand.
• Britain is to spend an extra £1.5bn on the Afghanistan war, and ring fence the defence budget for 2010-11.