Secretary of Defense James Mattis denied reports Friday that the U.S. is preparing military action against Iran.
The statement, made to reporters outside the Pentagon, came after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) alleged Thursday that the Trump administration may bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities as early as next month.
When questioned on the allegation Mattis referred to the report as “fiction.”
“I have no idea where the Australian news people got that,” Mattis said. “I am confident it is not something that is being considered right now… frankly its fiction as best I can give you.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also denied the claim when questioned by reporters.
“It’s speculation,” Turnbull said. “It is citing anonymous sources.”
ABC had claimed that Australian government sources believed the U.S. was ready to “bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities… and that Australia is poised to help identify possible targets.”
“Australian defence facilities would likely play a role in identifying targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies,” the report said.
Mattis’ denial follows a “principals meeting” Thursday at the White House, headed up by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, in which high-level administration officials and military commanders discussed Iran.
The ABC report also came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted threats to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,” Trump said in an all-caps message. “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018