US flies B-52 bombers over Middle East to 'deter aggression' from Iran, second time after Joe Biden took over
With Joe Biden taking over as the 46th president of the US in January, it was hoped that things would turn for the better between the US and Iran. But almost two months later since Biden’s inauguration, those wishes have not been fulfilled. Despite the president’s wish to see the US returning to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the latter has shown less intent in reciprocating as it has asked the US to ease the sanctions first. Tehran has negatively responded to the West’s initiative to engage with the US and on top of it, the Biden administration’s recent airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria in retaliation to a rocket attack on the bases of the US-led coalition in Iraq last month has hurt the chances of peace even more.
A pair of B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East on Sunday, March 7, marking the latest development in such a mission in the region which aims at warning Tehran amid the ongoing tussle with Washington, Associated Press reported. Last December, two American bomber planes flew from the US to the Middle East in a round-trip mission which American officials said covered a wide area and gave a direct message of deterrence to the Asian nation.
Joe Biden wants to revive Iran ties but Donald Trump's pressure on Tehran in his last days makes it challenging
In January end, too, the US military confirmed another flight trip by a B-52 bomber over the Middle east “to deter potential aggression” amid tensions with Tehran and it was the first such mission under the Biden presidency. The flights became common in the dying months of former president Donald Trump's rein who pulled the US out of the nuclear deal in May 2018.
Sunday’s flight by the two bombing jets took place as a pro-Iranian satellite channel in Lebanon broadcast Iranian military drone footage of an Iranian vessel hit by a mysterious explosion recently. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran over the explosion that damaged the ship in the Gulf of Oman. The MV Helios Ray, a vehicle carrier, was going from Saudi Arabia to Singapore when the blast reportedly caused holes on both sides of its hull.
To 'deter aggression and reassure US partners and allies'
According to AP, flight-tracking data showed the two heavy bombers flying out of Minot Air Base in North Dakota, something the military’s Central Command did not mention in its statement about the flights but authorities later published images of the flight crew preparing the departure. The command said the two jets flew over the region accompanied by military aircraft from countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It did not mention Iran directly either and said the flight was to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the U.S. military’s commitment to security in the region”.
Iran has escalated its breaches of the 2015 deal to create leverage over the US even as the Biden administration has sought to re-engage with the former. According to the deal which was signed at the time of the Barack Obama presidency and included other major powers like the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for lifting the sanctions that have crippled it economically.
Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, said as Iran seeks to put pressure on the US to lift the sanctions, it might seek “to exercise forceful diplomacy through military means”. Iran did not immediately acknowledge the vessel blast incident, AP added.