Plans were presented at a meeting of President Trump’s top national security officials last week for a deployment of 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East in a possible showdown with Iran, according to The New York Times.
President Trump has called the report erroneous. “I think it’s fake news, OK?” Mr. Trump told reporters as he was leaving the White House earlier today.
The President did say that should a decision to send troops be made, the number of troops may be higher than the number discussed.
“Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” the President added.
The plans are in response to Iranian aggression U.S. officials say, which has increased in recent months. The plans were reportedly requested by hardliners within the White House such as National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton has long advocated for regime change in Iran and his push for further Iranian isolation has increased since joining the Trump administration.
Bolton’s advocacy for a U.S. attack on Iran dates back to his time in the George W. Bush administration.
The recent developments have worried European allies who believe tensions between Washington and Tehran could erupt, even if unintentionally.
“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side,” said Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, according to The Times.
Iran reached a deal to curb its nuclear program with the U.S. and five other countries in 2015. President Trump removed the U.S. from that deal last year. Last week Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would stop complying with parts of the deal.
European nations have urged Iran to remain engaged in the deal despite President Trump’s cancellation.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr