Iranian and US tensions are boiling over in the Persian Gulf just days before the anniversary of the assassination of powerful military leader Qasem Soleimani.
Iran appealed to the UN on Thursday to stop the USA from conducting what they dubbed “military adventurism”.
Despite publicly claiming they do not want conflict, a US official has since told CNN that Iran has “ramped up” their readiness in the last two days.
Defence officials had already revealed intelligence showing that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles into Iraq, CNN said.
It comes following rising tensions between the two nations. Outgoing President Donald Trump tweeted last week that he will “hold Iran responsible” for any Americans killed.
Prior to Trump’s rambling, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani had dubbed the White House occupant as being a “madman” and suggested he would reach the same fate as hanged Saddam Hussein.
The Iran leader said: "The day that madman was hanged was the day people celebrated the final victory."
He added: "Trump’s fate won’t be much better than Saddam’s.
“We’ve had two lunatics in [our] history, one was Saddam who imposed a military war on us and the other lunatic is Trump who imposed the economic war on us.”
Hussein started a devastating eight-year war with Iran in 1980. He was hanged in Baghdad in 2006, after being captured by US forces.
Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018 and imposed crippling economic sanctions on the Persian Gulf nation.
The countries appear to be butting heads in the run-up to the one year anniversary of the assignation of Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone strike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
And the comments have started alarm bells ringing in Washington, with some worried that this could be more than just posturing.
Tom Nicholas, an international affairs expert and teacher at the US Naval War College, told CNN: “I'm genuinely concerned that the President could be thinking about saddling President-elect Biden with some kind of military operation on his way out the door.”
President-elect Biden has promised to sign back up to the agreement if Iran returns to full compliance.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Thursday that Trump is creating a pretext for war.
The US was tipped to have sent nuclear-capable B52 bombers to Persian Gulf this week, and it already has surface warships sitting nearby capable of firing Tomahawk missies.
Iran told the UN on Thursday: “Iran does not seek conflict, our ability and resolute determination to protect our people, to defend our security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and vital interests as well as to respond decisively to any threat or use of force against Iran must not be underestimated."