Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment Sunday on claims that the White House National Security Council asked the Pentagon last fall for options for a military strike against Iran, but a former Democratic senator said doing so would have been “very reasonable and rational thing” to do, given the circumstances.

Pompeo was asked about the report in the Wall Street Journal during a visit to the Middle East that has focused strongly on building a unified response to Iranian adventurism in the region. (A U.S.-led anti-Iran ministerial meeting is being planned in Warsaw next month.)

The Journal report, citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials, said the NSC request had been made after Iran-backed militiamen in Iraq fired mortars near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

It said the query had alarmed both the Pentagon and State Department, and that it was not clear whether President Trump knew about it.

National Security Advisor John Bolton has not commented on the claims, but speaking in defense of the reported request on Sunday was Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic senator who chairs the bipartisan lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran.

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