White House asked Pentagon to draw up plans for striking Iran: report

i24NEWS – Officials tell WSJ the ‘cavalier’ attitude with which the request was made sparked concern at the Pentagon

The White House asked the Pentagon to prepare plans for a US military strike against Iran after a September mortar attack claimed by a Tehran-aligned militia targeting Baghdad’s diplomatic quarter, which houses the US embassy, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.The request was made during a series of meetings led by US President Donald Trump’s national security council, headed by National Security Adviser John Bolton, after three mortars fired by Iran-affiliated militants in Iraq landed in the ultra-secure green zone in Baghdad on September 6.

Two days later, unknown militants fired three rockets in the southern city of Barsa which landed close to the American consulate in the city.Neither attack resulted in any injuries, but reportedly prompted Bolton to head discussions on a forceful American response.According to the WSJ report, which cited unnamed current and former US officials, the Pentagon complied with the request to draw up strike options, but it was not clear whether the proposals were ultimately handed to the White House or whether President Donald Trump knew of the request.Officials told the WSJ that the “cavalier” attitude with which the request for strike options was made had sparked concern at both the Pentagon and State Department.“People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran,” one official was quoted as saying.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council, Garrett Marquis, told the WSJ that the body “coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats”.

“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,” he added.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment on the report when asked about it at a news conference in Doha on Sunday.

In the wake of the September mortar attacks, the White House issued a statement warning that it would hold Iran accountable for any attacks that results in damage to US facilities or injures American personnel.”Over the past few days, we have seen life-threatening attacks in Iraq, including on the United States consulate in Basra and against the American embassy compound in Baghdad,” the White House said in a statement.”Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.”

“America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives,” the White House warned.Since Donald Trump took over the White House in early 2017, Washington has set Iran in its sights, accusing it of seeking to destabilize the Middle East. Bolton, who joined the Trump administration as National Security Adviser in March 2018, has long been a vociferous opponent of Iran and has repeatedly advocated for a preemptive strike on its nuclear facilities and the toppling of the clerical regime.