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 Robert BoltonIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds Trump officials say US efforts to deter Iran have worked MORE, who has long taken a hard-line stance on Iran, and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Pentagon to present White House with plans to deploy up to 10K troops to Middle East: report Senate panel rejects requiring Congress sign off before Iran strike 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 TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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.