The United States will be sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran.

In a public statement, former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said that the troops were being deployed purely for defensive purposes, and that “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran.” “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests,” Shanahan said. “We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats.” Shanahan stepped down as acting Defense Secretary on Tuesday in order to spend more time with his family and was replaced by Secretary of the Army Mark Esper.

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Some administration critics see the hand of known Iran hawk, National Security AdvisorJohn Bolton, in the move.

This decision comes as tensions between Iran and America continue to rise after an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks and produced images that reportedly show an Iranian boat removing a mine from the ship’s hull. The Middle Eastern country has strongly denied any involvement in the incident, claiming that it is innocent. International opinion is split, with the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia backing American’s claim and Germany hesitant to jump to a conclusion without more telling evidence. The owner of one of the tankers that were hit, the Japanese Kokuka Courageous, has contradicted the information reported by the United States.

Iran has also been worrying international powers lately as it continues to advance the pace of its nuclear program, enriching uranium at much higher speeds than it had done under the nuclear deal. Now that the country is really feeling the bite of America’s economic sanctions, it is hoping to pressure other signatories of the deal such as China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany into providing financial assistance to the country. So far Iran has had no luck convincing foreign entities to invest in it, as America has threatened to oust anybody who trades with Iran from the global financial system.