Donald Trump has denied a report claiming that US officials are preparing a military plan to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter an alleged Iranian threat.
The US president told reporters at the White House on Tuesday: “I think it’s fake news, OK? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that”
The New York Times reported on Monday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had put forward a plan— which he had updated on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s orders
He reportedly disclosed the updated military plan at a meeting of Trump’s top security aides on Thursday, the publication said, quoting anonymous sources inside the administration.
RT reports: Several options to tackle Tehran in the region were outlined to the president during the briefing, while “the uppermost option called for deploying 120,000 troops, which would take weeks or months to complete,” the Times said.
While the revisions “ordered” by “hard-liners” do not promulgate a land invasion of Iran, “the development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks,” The Times reported. Bolton has been a long-time advocate of using military force against Tehran, even penning an op-ed in 2015 titled “Top Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
The proposal to send additional reinforcements comes amid accusations from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Tehran has been engaging in “an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks.” To counter the unspecified threat, the Pentagon has already deployed the USS ‘Abraham Lincoln’ carrier strike group and bomber task force, including B-52s, to the region.
The deployment came exactly a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), and renewed sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s financial, oil and banking sectors. The US has also labeled Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps a “terrorist organization,” triggering a tit-for-tat response from Tehran.
Meanwhile, Iran said it will cancel part of its obligations under the nuclear agreement, and urged the European signatories to tackle Washington’s pressure.
The US sabre rattling is “attempting to magnify the shadow of war,” Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi explained on Sunday night, noting that American military buildup in the region is “theatrical and useless.”