Pentagon downplays report of possible Iran strike
Amid dueling threats between Trump and Tehran, Mattis calls Australian report ‘fiction’
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the US is not considering a military strike on Iran, contradicting a report from Australian media that suggested preparations were being made.
“I have no idea where the Australian news people got that information,” Mattis told reporters Friday, according to The Washington Examiner. “I am confident it’s something that’s not being considered right now,” emphasizing that “it’s fiction.”
On Thursday, Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the US is prepared to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, “perhaps as soon as next month,” citing a senior Australian security source.
The report came during a week when US President Donald Trump and Iranian officials ratcheted up a war of words, with both sides touting their military capabilities.
Following a tweet from Trump on Monday warning that Iran “WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Iran’s foreign minister issued is own all-caps warning that it is the US that should “BE CAUTIOUS!”
On Thursday, Iranian special forces commander Major General Qassem Soleimani took it up a notch with a threat that Iran “will destroy all that you possess,” directed at Trump.
“Talk to me, not to the president [Hassan Rouhani]. It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian media, per the BBC. “We are near you, where you can’t even imagine. Come. We are ready,” he went on, adding “if you begin the war, we will end the war. You know that this war will destroy all that you possess.”