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On Monday night, news broke that President Donald J. Trump may be considering plans to send over 100,000 U.S. troops to Iran. Such a move would all but explode the already-increasing tensions between the two countries. However, Trump has denied all allegations regarding this move, although he has far from ruled out the prospect of similar action.
On Tuesday, Trump addressed reporters outside the White House, to whom he denied Monday night’s rumors as “fake news” (a phrase he uses often). However, just moments later, Trump admitted he would absolutely consider a similar plan if it were proposed to him. In fact, Trump seemed to suggest any military deployments to Iran would involve far more than 100,000 soldiers.
Apparently, Monday night’s reports centered around a presentation that Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan gave to Trump’s national security team. Shanahan gave this presentation under orders from Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who is notoriously bent on war with Iran. In a recent meeting regarding strategy around Iran, Shananan presented the option in question as merely that — an option. Shanahan presented this approach as an absolute worst-case, last-ditch scenario that would all but guarantee war between the two countries.
Such a massive military operation would require much time and coordination to roll out. It would begin with the relocation of many troops to Iran to join those already there, bringing the sum of U.S. troops in Iran to 120,000. The new troops being relocated would likely come from the Air Force and Navy. Given the diversity of military branches and the sheer number of soldiers involved, experts say such a move would require months to execute.
Additionally, according to officials close to the situation, this move would only be implemented if Iran attacked the many U.S. forces currently stationed near the Middle Eastern country. These officials also noted that it is common for the Pentagon to offer contingency plans such as this one if there is enough reason to believe an attack may be imminent, as U.S. intelligence had recently indicated.
Even the merely theoretical nature of such actions, though, has drawn a stern response from Iran. Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, affirmed Iran’s stance that war with the U.S. is unnecessary and dangerous for both countries. Baeidinejad also lambasted Trump’s sending of B-52 bombers, an aircraft strike group, and additional military personnel and equipment to the nearby Persian Gulf. In doing so, Baeidinejad further singled out John Bolton as one of the many presidential advisers needlessly trying to push the two countries to the brink of war. Baeidinejad further denied that the recent damage to Saudi, Norwegian, and Emirati oil tankers is the work of Iran or any of its allies.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, commented as well. Khamenei stated that both Iran and the U.S. want to avoid war. In his comments, Khamenei issued a veiled threat, saying that the U.S. is well aware that a war “wouldn’t be beneficial.”