White House asked for options to strike Iran, reports WSJ

White House asked for options to strike Iran, reports WSJ

President Donald Trump's National Security Council, led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, asked the Pentagon to develop options for a military strike against Iran a year ago, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday citing unnamed current and former USA officials. The shells-launched by a group aligned with Iran-landed in an open lot and harmed no one.

"It definitely rattled people", a former senior White House official told The Wall Street Journal, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran".

Although the Pentagon obeyed the request by the council, the Journal reported, it is unknown whether or not the plans for striking Iran were ever fully developed or even provided to the White House. Two days later however, amid ongoing protests in the southern city of Basra, unknown militants fired several rockets towards the United States consulate building.

A spokesman for the National Security Council was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, however, as saying: "We continue to review the status of our personnel following attempted attacks on our embassy in Baghdad and our Basra consulate, and we will consider a full range of options to preserve their safety and our interests".

Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following Trump's decision in May to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and to reimpose sanctions, including on Iran's vital oil sector.

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Later in the month, US National Security Adviser John Bolton issued a stark public warning to Tehran: "There will be hell to pay" if Iran continued to "cross" the US and its allies.

While Bolton's approach has seen him butt heads with a number of people in Trump's Cabinet - most notably former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - he has found an ally in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Pentagon said it provides the president options for a variety of threats.

While no one was wounded in the incident, it angered the US.

Pompeo said on Friday that the summit, to be held in Warsaw on 13-14 February, would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including on the "important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence".

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