WASHINGTON — Iran remains a threat to U.S. forces in the region and the Pentagon remains “focused on ensuring that we minimize the risk of miscalculation,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Wednesday.
In another critical, Shanahan said North Korea’s test of a short- range missile is a violation of the U.N. resolutions that include sanctions against Pyongyang.
“Let me just be clear: These were short-range missiles. Those are a violation of the UNSCR (U.N. Security Council Resolutions),” Shanahan told reporters traveling with him to Asia.
Shanahan’s position aligns the State Department and the government of Japan, among others — but is contrary to President Donald Trump’s declaration that the test was not a major issue.
“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman [Jong Un] Kim will keep his promise to me,” Trump said, in part, in a tweet.
Shanahan said: “Our job in the department of defense: Enforce sanctions. We’ll continue to enforce sanctions. Our job in the department of defense: Be ready in the situation that diplomacy fails, so my focus is on readiness.”
Shanahan made his remarks to the press pool traveling with him to Asia. The remarks are shared with the larger group of reporters who rotate on the trips, of which TMN is one.
Concerning Iran, Shanahan said the reinforcements sent by the Pentagon to the region in response to the threat from Tehran are mostly in place in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“I don’t see a change in any behavior [by Iran],” Shanahan told reporters. “I think the situation is, still remains tense. It’s a high-threat environment but I haven’t seen it change in the last few days.”
He said the Pentagon’s confidence in the intelligence is high.
“I wish that I could hand over to you all the information and let you feel very good about it,” Shanahan said. “The thing I would offer is, it was so credible that we moved back quickly.”
He dismissed suggestions that the intelligence may betray the need for the boost in military assets as it did for the 2003 war with Iraq.
“They’re just not comparable,” Shanahan said of the two situations. “So I would just start there and it’s, they’re not comparable. [This is] a credible real threat. I don’t know the exact circumstances 15 years ago so I’m not going to try to draw a contrast but I have very high confidence in the reporting.”