White House asked for options to strike Iran

The White House in Washington US

"It definitely rattled people", a former senior US administration official said of the request.

The request alarmed the Pentagon and State Department, the Journal reported, but the Pentagon complied with the request and developed the options.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that it was not clear whether the options were provided to the White House, whether President Donald Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a USA strike against Iran took shape at that time.

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".

The request came after mortars were launched by militants, affiliated with Iran, towards the United States embassy in Baghdad.

The decision was prompted by three mortars being fired into a diplomatic quarter in Baghdad in September, the newspaper said. 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.

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A National Security Council spokesman told the newspaper the council "coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats".

Former US officials said it was unnerving that the NSC asked for such far-reaching military options in response to attacks that caused little damage and no injuries.

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.

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

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen significantly ever since Donald Trump's election as President.

Asked about the report during his Middle East trip, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment. The Iranians could do plenty of damage to us if they chose to retaliate.

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