US President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, but didn’t rule out deploying “a hell of a lot more” soldiers in the future.
“I think it’s fake news,” Trump said in response to a New York Times report that had said that the White House is considering a plan to send 120,000 troops to the region as part of a tightening pressure campaign against the Iranian government.
The Times reported that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated plan last week in a meeting of top national security aides that envisions sending as many as 120,000 American troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or accelerates work on its nuclear weapons.
“Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
The plan reflects revisions ordered by Iran hawks including national security adviser John Bolton, the newspaper said.
A few days ago, when asked about if he was seeking regime change in Iran, President Trump had said: “We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”
“More than a half-dozen American national security officials who have been briefed on details of the updated plans agreed to discuss them with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. Spokesmen for Mr. Shanahan and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment,” read the report.