"I don't actually believe the threat has diminished", he said, adding that he could not rule out the possibility that the US would send more troops to the Middle East.
The top commander of the U.S. military in the Middle East has said he believes Iran or its proxies may facilitate an attack on USA forces or their allies at any moment.
But despite the U.S. stepping up efforts to defend itself and attack if needed, the General McKenzie remains fearful Iran could still be planning more aggression.
"McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, and other military officials are trying to strike a balance between persuading Iran that the US is prepared to retaliate for an Iranian attack on Americans, thus deterring conflict, and pushing so much military muscle into the Gulf that Iran thinks the US plans an attack, in which case it might feel compelled to strike preemptively and thus spark war. I believe the threat is very real", McKenzie said in Baghdad during an interview with three reporters accompanying him on a visit to the region.
The Pentagon has also accused the IRGC of being directly responsible for May 12 attacks off the coast of the United Arab Emirates that damaged two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker.
General McKenzie said: "We've taken steps to show the Iranians that we mean business in our ability to defend ourselves".
The top commander of USA forces in the Mideast said Iran appears to have chose to "step back and recalculate" in response to a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf area.
'[The request is to] improve our force protection and safeguard US forces given the ongoing threat posed by Iranian forces, including the IRGC and its proxies, ' Shanahan said.
"They probe for weakness all the times", McKenzie said.
US persons are already barred from almost all dealings with the Iranian economy, so the latest sanctions largely apply only to non-U.S. companies and individuals.
"I think we're still in the period of what I would call tactical warning".
He declined to go into specifics of the nature of the threats. The administration also reinstated sanctions against Iran that the Obama administration had lifted after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal-a landmark agreement that saw Iran give up key elements of its nuclear energy program in exchange for sanctions relief, despite the fact that Iran was in compliance with its terms. "We can turn that around very quickly but the sanctions have been extraordinary [in] how powerful they have been". "We'll talk", Trump said.
Iran claims its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes. The new measures follow a round of sanctions imposed last month that targeted Iran's export revenues from industrial metals.
"I understand they want to talk and that's fine, we'll talk".
Under sanctions reimposed on November 5 after Trump left the Iran nuclear deal, anyone carrying out a significant transaction in Iranian petrochemical products could already be hit by a menu of sanctions, including being barred from the United States.