The US military is building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar, as it quietly prepares for a possible military confrontation with Iran, US officials tell the Wall Street Journal. The Pentagon fears that when this summer's oil sanctions fully kick in, Iran will lash out, either with ballistic missiles, or by closing the Strait of Hormuz. To combat the latter, the US is organizing unprecedented mine-sweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf.
The US yesterday also deployed an extra aircraft carrier to the region months ahead of schedule, and plans to keep two aircraft carriers there at all times. Qatar is already host to more than 8,000 US troops and the Al Udeid Air Force base. In addition, some commanders want to deploy the Army's new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile-interceptor system in the UAE. The US says all of this is precautionary, but Iran is likely to see it as a provocation. Hillary Clinton yesterday emphasized that the squeeze on Tehran is working, saying, "Our two-track policy of diplomacy and pressure is in full move here."