United States is prepared to bomb Iran
WELL, this is it. Donald Trump is ready to take on Iran.
The United States is reportedly prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear capability as early as next month - and Australia will have a role to play.
According to senior figures in the Turnbull Government, the US is almost ready to pull the trigger on sites related to Iran's nuclear program, in a move that would no doubt impact the wider region.
The unnamed sources told the ABC that Australian defence facilities would likely help identify targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies.
Pine Gap, the top-secret spy base in the Northern Territory, is considered crucial for its role in directing American spy satellites.
Sources said Australian agencies could potentially help isolate targets as part of our ongoing Five Eyes intelligence pact with the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand - although they noted Canada and New Zealand would be unlikely to play a military role in the conflict.
Australia has separated itself from rising tensions between the US and Iran, instead urging the Middle Eastern giant to take a peaceful role in the region.
"Australia is urging Iran to be a force for peace and stability in the region," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told ABC radio yesterday.
"The relationship between the United States and Iran is a matter for them.
"What we are looking to do is to ensure that all parties embrace peaceful and stable principles to ensure that our region is safe."
Earlier this week, Donald Trump launched a blistering, all-capitals attack on Iran via Twitter, following a warning from President Hassan Rouhani that the "mother of all wars" would take place if the US maintained its hostilities towards Iran.
"Mr Trump, don't play with the lion's tail, this would only lead to regret," he told a gathering of Iranian diplomats.
"America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.
"You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran's security and interests."
Mr Trump issued a furious tweet in response on Monday night, warning the Iranian leader to "NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN", or he will "SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE".
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to the threat shortly after, saying Iran was "unimpressed" by his stance.
COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 23, 2018
The US President has since softened his rhetoric.
"I withdrew the United States from the horrible one-sided Iran nuclear deal, and Iran is not the same country anymore," he told a convention in Kansas City. "We're ready to make a deal."
When asked if he had concerns about stoking tensions with Iran, Mr Trump told reporters: "None at all."
Some critics have suggested his tirade was part of a strategy where the US leader invents crises that he can then take the credit for "solving".
Others noted it was a way to change the subject following the backlash over the President's Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, which took place the week prior to his angry tweet.
A top Iranian general says his forces are ready if Mr Trump follows through on his warning that Iran will "suffer consequences" if Tehran threatens the United States.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday there was no need for him to "respond to any nonsensical comment" but General Qassem Soleimani, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran's hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said on Thursday it was his duty as a soldier to reply.
He was quoted by news website yjc.ir, affiliated with state-run television, as saying "we are ready to confront you."
He called Mr Trump a "gambler" and says: "You will start the war but we will end it."