US says it has rea­son to warn Iran

Re­port cites spy pho­tos of mis­siles

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - David Jack­son

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.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Pres­i­dent Trump and na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton are at the cen­ter of the de­bate.

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