US Pentagon 'developed plans to strike Iran'

John Bolton's National Security Council 'sought military options against Tehran last year'

FILE - In this Dec. 26, 2018 file photo, National Security Adviser John Bolton attends a meeting with President Donald Trump and senior military leadership at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. On Monday, Jan. 7, 2018, a Syrian Kurdish official said Syria's Kurds are awaiting clarifications from the U.S. over America's withdrawal plans following comments made by Bolton which appeared to contradict earlier comments by President Donald Trump. Bolton, on a visit to Israel Sunday, said U.S. troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS militants are defeated and American-allied Kurdish fighters are protected. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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President Donald Trump's National Security Council asked the Pentagon to develop plans for US military action against Iran last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In early September, an Iraqi militia with ties to Iran launched mortars towards the US embassy in Baghdad's diplomatic district. No one was harmed by the explosions, which landed in a vacant lot, and there was little media attention given the relative frequency of such attacks on Green Zone. Two days later however, amid ongoing protests in the southern city of Basra, unknown militants fired several rockets towards the US consulate building.

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.

Speaking to an audience of anti-Tehran activists, the longtime Iran hawk said: “The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behaviour.”

What was known until now was that Mr Bolton’s National Security Council also asked the military to present the White House with options for striking Iran as a way of countering Tehran's influence in the region.

Previously Mr Bolton has advocated for military strikes against Iran. In 2015, while working for a think tank, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times titled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran".

"The inconvenient truth is that only military action... can accomplish what is required," Mr Bolton wrote. "Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed."

While the Pentagon complied with National Security Council's request, it was not clear whether Mr Trump knew of the request or whether plans to strike Iran were seriously considered, the Journal reported.


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