White House asked for options to strike Iran: WSJ

Published:Sunday, January 13, 2019
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white-house-asked-for-options-to-strike-iran-wsj

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House’s national security team last fall asked the Pentagon to provide it with options for striking Iran after a group of militants aligned with Tehran fired mortars into an area in Baghdad that is home to the U.S. Embassy, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The request by the National Security Council, which is led by John Bolton, sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials, the newspaper reported, citing current and former U.S. officials.

The Pentagon complied with the request, but it is not known whether the options for an Iran strike were also provided to the White House or if President Donald Trump knew about it.

The decision to seek options striking Iran was prompted by an incident in September in which three mortars were fired into a diplomatic quarter in Baghdad, the newspaper said. The shells landed in an open lot and no one was hurt.

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo did not comment on the story when asked about it by reporters and a State Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

A Pentagon spokesman did not have any immediate comment on the story and the White House and National Security Council could not be immediately reached.

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.”

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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