(AFP) – Apr 30, 2008
MEXICO CITY (AFP) — The United States remains focused on halting Iranian meddling inside Iraq, the Pentagon's spokesman said here Wednesday, denying reports of new planning for military options against Iran.
"I'm not aware of any ramping up or revision of war plans for Iran," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters traveling with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is winding up a two day visit here.
"Reports suggesting that are not consistent with what I know to be going on at the Pentagon," Morrell added.
CBS News reported Tuesday that the Pentagon has ordered new options to be drawn up for attacking Iran and that the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum that would tell Iran to stop meddling in Iraq or else.
"The focus of our efforts to combat the supplying of arms, the training of terrorists in Iraq by the Iranians continues to be within the confines of Iraq," Morrell said.
Gates flatly denied on Tuesday that the Pentagon was preparing for military strikes against Iran.
But he said the arrival of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf, briefly raising the number of US carriers there to two, should be seen as a "reminder" of US military power.
The USS Harry Truman has since left the Gulf but remains in the US Central Command's area of operations, defense officials said.
US military leaders have taken a harder tone on the threat Iran poses in recent weeks amid spiking US casualties in clashes with Shiite militias that the United States charges is backed by Iran.
General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, has charged that the Quds Force, a covert branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was funding, training and arming Shiite militants to kill US troops.
Petraeus and other military leaders have said that the extent of the Iranian involvement became apparent last month after an Iraqi government crackdown in the southern port of Basra on armed gangs that exploded into violence.
He told Congress earlier this month that the Iranian-backed "special groups" were the greatest long-term threat to a viable democratic Iraq.
Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday he was increasingly concerned about Iran's behavior and pointedly warned that "it would be a mistake to think we are out of combat power."
Gates ended a visit here aimed at strengthening military ties with Mexico by paying tribute to veterans of a Mexican air force squadron that fought alongside the allies in the Pacific during World War II.
He placed a wreath at a monument to the pilots of Squadron 201 who lost their lives in the war.
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