White House asked for options to strike Iran, reports WSJ

A US Navy F-35 fighter jet during a test flight

A US Navy F-35 fighter jet during a test flight

President Donald Trump's National Security Council, led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, asked the Pentagon to develop options for a military strike against Iran past year, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday citing unnamed current and former US officials.

The mortars landed in an empty lot, and no injuries were reported.

"It definitely rattled people", a former senior White House official told The Wall Street Journal, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He added: "Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitised to the regime's authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence overseas, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government's many abuses".

The request to the Pentagon came from U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, and it is unknown if Bolton had conversed with the President prior to making the request.

Two days later, unidentified fighters fired three rockets that hit close to the United States consulate in the southern city of Basra but caused no serious damage.

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

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Citing the lack of casualties and limited damage that resulted from the September 6 mortar attack, the US officials whom the Journal spoke to said Bolton's request for a far-reaching military response was jarring.

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

Relations between Iran and the USA have become more confrontational since Trump's election and his May 2018 decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose severe economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The US blamed Iran for the attack, despite Tehran's categorical denial.

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.

While no one was wounded in the incident, it angered the US.

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