WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The United States has speeded movement of anti-missile defenses to the Persian Gulf to put pressure on Iran, government officials say.
Four countries in the region have accepted U.S. missile defense systems, and Aegis cruisers have been deployed, The New York Times reported Saturday. The move began under President George W. Bush but has recently been accelerated by President Obama.
Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, discussed the deployment in a rare public forum at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington on Jan. 22. He did not name the countries but said each now has two Patriot missile batteries.
"Iran is clearly seen as a very serious threat by those on the other side of the gulf front," he said.
A senior military official told the Times the countries are Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The administration has tried engaging with Iran but recently changed its tone. In his State of the Union address, Obama warned of "consequences" to Iran if the country does not give way on its nuclear program, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that China should support sanctions.
Petraeus said the U.S. defenses in the Gulf include Aegis cruisers capable of intercepting medium-range missiles.