Sun, 22 Sep 2019

The White House is reviewing military plans that could see the deployment of up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack U.S. forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, The New York Times reports.

Citing anonymous administration officials, the newspaper said on May 13 that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented the plans at a meeting of President Donald Trump's top security aides last week.

Several plans were detailed and 'the uppermost option called for deploying 120,000 troops, which would take weeks or months to complete,' according to the Times.

The report said the plans do not call for a land invasion of Iran.

Rising Tensions

The White House and the Pentagon have not immediately commented on the report, which comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Last week, Washington announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to counter what U.S. officials called 'clear indications' of threats from Iran to U.S. interests or its allies in the region.

The USS Abraham Lincoln and other military resources have been sent to the Middle East following 'clear indications' that Iran and its proxy forces posed a threat to U.S. interests in the region.

Tehran said Washington was engaging in 'psychological warfare.'

It also announced it was suspending some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The United States withdrew from the deal a year ago and has since imposed increasingly strict sanctions on Tehran.

In pulling out of the accord, Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran's missile program or Tehran's alleged support for militants in the region.

Iran denies it supports insurgent activity and has said its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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