US says it has reason to warn Iran
Report cites spy photos of missiles
WASHINGTON – The United States and allies have been arguing about whether Iran is stepping up threats against American forces in the Middle East – or responding to threats from the Trump administration.
U.S. officials told The New York Times they escalated their warnings to Iran because of intelligence showing photographs of missiles loaded onto small boats in the Persian Gulf.
“Overhead imagery showed fully assembled missiles, stoking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary
Guards Corps would fire them at United
States naval ships,” the Times reported.
The Times noted that Europeans and some congressional lawmakers said
“Iran’s moves might mostly be defensive against what Tehran believes are provocative acts by Washington.”
Last week, CNN reported that Iran loaded ballistic missiles on boats.
The U.S. sent B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. Wednesday, the State Department ordered nonemergency staff
“We should do everything possible to prevent an unnecessary war, beginning with ... toning down the rhetoric.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
out of Iraq because of the tensions.
This week, U.S. and British officials publicly disputed whether Iran is more of a threat than it has been. British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, the No. 2 officer in the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in Syria and Iraq, said the Iran threat is no greater than it was months ago.
The Pentagon pushed back. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said Ghika was wrong and his comments “run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies.”
Lawmakers fear the tensions could lead to military conflict.
Democrats have been particularly critical of national security adviser John Bolton, who has made no secret of his desire to seek regime change in Iran.
“We should do everything possible to prevent an unnecessary war, beginning with immediately reopening diplomatic channels and toning down the rhetoric,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
At the White House Thursday, President Donald Trump responded to a question about whether his administration is marching the United States into a war with Iran with “I hope not.” He has played down the potential for military action, saying he would respond only to some kind of attack. Asked earlier in the week about a report that Bolton and other officials discussed sending 120,000 troops to the region, Trump said, “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.”
President Trump and national security adviser John Bolton are at the center of the debate.