White House asked for Iran attack options

White House national Security Advisor John Bolton listens as U.S. President Donald Trump

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 paper cited current and former U.S. officials as its sources.

But the White House National Security Council (NSC) sought to develop a forceful American response to the low-scale attack, including options for a strike against the Islamic republic, the Journal reported. According to the Wall Street Journal, the request was made after several shells landed in Baghdad's green zone, near the United States embassy last September. Two days later, unidentified militants fired three rockets that hit close to the US consulate in the southern city of Basra but caused no serious damage. Washington blamed the attacks on Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units, which Washington alleges has close ties with Tehran.

Garrett Marquis, speaking for the National Security Council responded to the report by stating it 'coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats'. 'People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran'.

As a think tank scholar and Fox News commentator, Bolton often urged Washington to attack Iran, including in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled: "To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran".

Citing the lack of casualties and limited damage that resulted from the September 6 mortar attack, the US officials whom the Journal spoke to said Bolton's request for a far-reaching military response was jarring.

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Prior to his appointment, he has often urged for military action against the nation, and has since worked to pull the United States out of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran with the support of President Trump.

Asked about the report during his Middle East trip, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment.

"Iran will be held accountable for those incidents", he said in a 21 September interview with CNN.

Pentagon officials stressed that it was not unusual for the Defense Department to draw up military plans for the White House.

There's no doubt that we could do plenty of damage to Iran if we chose to strike. The Iranians could do plenty of damage to us if they chose to retaliate.

Poland's charge d'affaires was told that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a "hostile act against Iran" and was warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA added.

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