White House asked Pentagon for options to strike Iran

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

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump's White House - led by national security adviser John Bolton - requested options from the Pentagon to launch an attack on Iran in September of previous year.

The State Department did not comment on the report. The Journal reported that it wasn't clear whether Trump knew about, or was provided with, the plans for potential military strikes.

"It definitely rattled people", one former senior U.S. administration official told the WSJ.

"People were shocked", the official added.

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".

Following revelations of Israel's strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, it became known that Washington had also mulled over plans to attack Iran after three mortar shells landed in Baghdad's diplomatic quarter near the US Embassy in September 2018. The attacks did not cause any American injuries or major damage.

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"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", the statement read.

A senior administration official told CNN on Sunday that it's not accurate to say the Pentagon and State Department were caught off guard by the request, but would not confirm any other details from the Journal's report.

The NSC did not deny the Journal's reporting in a statement for the article.

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".

Bolton established a long-running record of advocating for military action against Iran prior to assuming his post as one of Trump's closest advisors.

While Bolton's approach has seen him butt heads with a number of people in Trump's Cabinet - most notably former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - he has found an ally in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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