The White House’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon last year for plans for launching a military attack against Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported early Sunday, citing current and former US officials.
The request from the council, which is led by national security adviser John Bolton, came after an attack in September on the US Embassy in Baghdad by a militant group aligned with Iran, according to the Journal.
According to the paper, Mira Ricardel, the former deputy national security adviser, described the attacks in Iraq as “an act of war,” and said that the US needed to respond accordingly.
The request was met with concern by both the Pentagon and the State Department, according to the Journal, with one former administration official telling the paper that people were “shocked” by the request.
A senior administration official told CNN on Sunday that it’s not accurate to say the Pentagon and State Department were caught off guard by the request, but would not confirm any other details from the Journal’s report.
Although the Pentagon obeyed the request by the council, the Journal reported, it is unknown whether or not the plans for striking Iran were ever fully developed or even provided to the White House. The Journal also said that it is unknown whether President Donald Trump had knowledge of the request.
In a statement provided to CNN on Sunday, Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the council, said that it “coordinates policy and provides the President with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats.”
“We continue to review the status of our personnel following attempted attacks on our embassy in Baghdad and our Basra consulate, and we will consider a full range of options to preserve their safety and our interests,” the statement read. Marquis also provided the Journal with the same response.
Later Sunday, Defense Department spokesman Col. Rob Manning told CNN that the department “is a planning organization and provides the President military options for a variety of threats; routinely reviewing and updating plans and activities to deal with a host of threats, including those posed by Iran, to deter and, if necessary, to respond to aggression.”
The Journal, citing conversations with people familiar with the talks, also reported that the council requested options for launching strikes at both Iraq and Syria when they made the request for Iran.
CNN’s Sarah Westwood and Ryan Browne contributed to this report.