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U.S. Defense Chief Won't Boost Middle East Forces Over Iran Concerns

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he is not considering increasing U.S. forces in the Middle East in response to Iran's ballistic missile tests and other "misbehavior."

"I don't see any need to increase the number of forces we have in the Middle East at this time. That's not in the cards right now," he said as he visited Japan on February 4. "We always have the capability to do so. But right now, I don't think it's necessary."

Mattis's comments came one day after the United States announced new sanctions on Tehran over its repeated missile tests, which Iran contends are for defense purposes.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed a more aggressive policy against Tehran and his administration is warning of more concrete action if Iran does not stop the tests. It also accuses Tehran of supporting proxy wars in the region.

Mattis said putting Iran on notice was worthwhile, given its behavior.

"As far as Iran goes, this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and I think it is wise to make certain that Iran recognizes that what it is doing is getting the attention of a lot of people," he said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters