Trump de­nies US plans to send troops to Iran

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - World - Yash­want Raj yash­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com n

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day dis­missed as fake news a re­port that top US na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials re­viewed a plan to de­ploy 120,000 troops to West Asia if Iran at­tacked Amer­i­can forces, but vowed that if he was forced to make that choice, he would send “a hell of a lot more troops”.

The plan, first re­ported by The New York Times, was to send nearly the same num­ber of troops as the ini­tial US in­va­sion force in Iraq in 2003.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about it, Trump said: “Now, would I do that? Ab­so­lutely. But we have not planned for that. Hope­fully we don’t have to plan for that.” But, “if we did that we will send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” he added.

Trump had ear­lier warned Iran that “it’s go­ing to be a bad prob­lem for Iran if some­thing hap­pens, I can tell you that. They’re not go­ing to be happy.”

The news re­port said the plan was or­dered by Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton, a stri­dent Iran hawk, and the meet­ing was at­tended by act­ing sec­re­tary of de­fence Patrick Shana­han, chair­man of the joint chiefs of staff Joseph Dun­ford, CIA direc­tor Gina Haspel and Direc­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Dan Coats among oth­ers.

The United States despatched an air­craft car­rier strike group and B-52 bombers to West Asia last week cit­ing in­tel­li­gence that Iran, by it­self or through prox­ies, could launch an at­tack on Amer­i­can in­ter­ests or al­lies.

It has also de­ployed a Pa­triot anti-mis­sile bat­tery and an am­phibi­ous war­ship used for trans­port­ing troops.

The NYT re­port said that some na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials be­lieve Iran has felt em­bold­ened af­ter Trump’s an­nounce­ment to with­draw troops from Syria and a thin­ning US naval pres­ence int he re­gion.

Te­heran, in their view re­port­edly, has con­cluded the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t have the stom­ach for a con­flict.

AP

Satel­lite photo by Maxar Tech­nolo­gies shows a Saudi-flagged oil tanker off the coast of Fu­jairah, UAE.

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