Tensions have built up ever since Washington began to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
On Monday, the US president warned that Iran would “suffer greatly” if it were it to “do anything.”
“I’m hearing little stories about Iran,” he told reporters at the White House. “If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake.”
Lawmakers, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, said Tuesday that the administration had not shared enough information with them as to the threats the president claims Iran is posing as well as the administration’s decisions about them.
“I think all of us are in the dark over here,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters outside the Senate.
“If Iran is responsible for targeted attacks on our service members stationed around the region or any of our national security assets, we should of course respond appropriately and in a way that deters and prevents further assaults,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“But it is hard to justify the administration’s actions thus far since they insist on stonewalling Congress from receiving any specifics about what these increased threats actually are and our strategy to confront them.”
Some Democrats suggested that holding public hearings with senior administration officials would be appropriate.
The administration has regularly briefed Congress about major national security matters during previous administrations.
This comes as hawkish American officials, led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, have reportedly presented Trump with a new military plan aimed at Iran, which would see Washington deploy tens of thousands of troops to the Middle East.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan put forward the plan — which he had updated on Bolton’s orders — at a meeting of Trump’s top national security aides on broader Iran policy last Thursday, The New York Times reported Monday, citing unnamed administration officials.
Trump, however, rejected the report that American officials were preparing to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the region to counter threats posed by Iran.
Tehran’s envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday dismissed such a plan as mere “psychological warfare.”
Majid Takht-e Ravanchi made the remarks in a talk to CNN, asserting that Iran was not inclined either towards triggering a regional conflict or pursuing nuclear weapons.