Photos of Iranian missiles sparked US response in Gulf: report

Photos of Iranian missiles sparked US response in Gulf: report
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The White House ramped up its warnings about a threat from Iran after intelligence showed pictures of small boats in the Persian Gulf that Iranian paramilitary forces had outfitted with missiles, according to The New York Times.

Three U.S. officials told the Times that the photographs showed fully assembled missiles, sparking fears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would fire at U.S. naval ships. Other pieces of intelligence reportedly noted threats against commercial shipping and potential attacks by Iranian proxy forces on American personnel in Iraq.

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White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Swalwell: Depositions provided evidence of an 'extortion scheme' Intelligence panel Democrat: 'I think we will end up calling' some witnesses on GOP list MORE, who has long taken a hard-line stance on Iran, and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran lays foundation for second nuclear plant: report Pompeo knocks Iran's treatment of UN nuclear inspector Reagan statue unveiled near site where he called for Gorbachev to 'tear down' Berlin Wall MORE believe that, taken with other intelligence, the photographs could indicate Tehran is preparing to attack U.S. forces, the officials said. 

The White House and National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

Other U.S. and foreign officials warn, however, that Iran’s moves are defensive in nature against what it fears are provocations from Washington, the Times noted. 

Nevertheless, the questions about intelligence could amplify demands from Capitol Hill for briefings from the White House regarding the threat Iran may pose, it added.

Intelligence officials are set to meet Thursday with senior congressional leaders for a briefing, according to the Times.

The new intelligence reportedly contributed to the State Department’s decision to order a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and a consulate in Erbil, which one senior U.S. official told the Times was an overreaction. 

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have intensified in recent weeks after the Trump administration announced a U.S. carrier strike group would head to the region in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

The move was reportedly prompted in part by intelligence that Tehran gave permission to some of its proxy forces in the region to attack U.S. military assets and personnel in the region. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also announced last week that he would curtail Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE withdrew the U.S. from the pact in 2017 because he said the agreement did not adequately address Tehran’s influence in the region or its missile programs, though European signatories have urged Tehran to remain in the deal.