White House asked for options to strike Iran

The White House in Washington US

The White House in Washington US

A Iran Air Force F-7 Airguard in Vahdati Airbase Air Show.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that it was not clear whether the options were provided to the White House, whether President Donald Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a US strike against Iran took shape at that time.

The request was made after militants in Iraq aligned with Iran fired mortars at Baghdad's diplomatic district, which includes the U.S. Embassy, the report said.

What was known until now was that Mr Bolton's National Security Council also asked the military to present the White House with options for striking Iran as a way of countering Tehran's influence in the region. No one was harmed by the explosions, which landed in a vacant lot, and there was little media attention given the relative frequency of such attacks on Green Zone.

It added that the NSC also requested options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria.

'It definitely rattled people, ' a former senior USA administration official told the Journal.

Although the Defense Department did develop proposals for a possible strike, the Journal said it was unclear whether they were shared with the White House.

In one meeting, Bolton's then deputy Mira Ricardel, who was forced out of her job in November after a feud with First Lady Melania Trump, described the attacks in Iraq as "an act of war" and said the USA had to respond decisively, according to one person familiar with the meeting.

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the newspaper that the council "coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats".

He has worked with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in implementing a more hardline approach to Iran since taking office. There were no injuries nor damage in either incident.

Previously Mr Bolton has advocated for military strikes against Iran.

He penned a 2015 New York Times opinion piece prior to his current role titled "To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran".