The New York Times claimed in a report citing anonymous sources Monday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented the Trump administration with a military proposal that could see the Pentagon send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East.
The unknown “government officials” speaking to the Times claim the plan is contingent on Iran striking U.S. military forces or executing advanced plans to build nuclear weapons.
The New York Times reports Shanahan shared the plan while meeting with President Donald Trump’s leading security advisors last Thursday. National Security Advisor John Bolton is said to have requested the revision and does not include plans for a ground invasion of Iran – an offensive which would require a significantly higher number of troops.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Times and other news outlets, while the Pentagon stated it would not comment on the matter.
The report comes as tensions continue to flare between the U.S. and Iran.
Last week, President Donald Trump tightened the screws further on Iran with sanctions on its mining industry after a frustrated Tehran said it would suspend some promises it made under a nuclear deal rejected by Washington.
On the anniversary of the president’s withdrawal from the accord he denounced as “horrible,” tensions were soaring as the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers to the region and accused Iran of “imminent” attacks.
In an announcement previewed for days, Iran said it would immediately stop implementing some restrictions under the 2015 deal — a move aimed largely at pressing Washington’s European allies to step up to preserve the agreement.
Tehran said it would abandon even more if the remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia — failed to start delivering on their commitments to sanctions relief within 60 days.
On Monday, President Donald Trump issued another warning to Iran, saying that if Tehran does “anything” in the form of an attack “they will suffer greatly.”
He was asked Monday about two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian-flagged vessel being damaged in what Gulf officials described as a “sabotage” attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Details of the incident remain unclear. But it raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies.
President Trump was asked about the sabotage, and responded: “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.