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Photos Taken May 3 Added Fuel to Iran Fears

Newser — Jenn Gidman

Non-essential Embassy staff members in Iraq have been told to leave, and there's been a report that the Pentagon could send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if tensions with Iran reach a breaking point.

Now, a possible clue as to why the hubbub over Iran has suddenly heated up: some photos. Three US officials who talked to the New York Times say the images, shot from above the Persian Gulf, show ready-to-go missiles on small boats.

The May 3 imagery, combined with other intel, has apparently spooked the likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. It's believed the missile-equipped boats are under the purview of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's elite military force that was recently added to the US list of "foreign terrorist organizations."

CNN reported last week that Iran appeared to be moving missiles aboard boats, but the Times notes that other intel has added to that concern and is signaling a "troubling Iranian mobilization of forces," in US officials' eyes.

Axios offers a timeline detailing the escalating tensions since May 5. Some, however—including high-up Trump officials, Iraqis, Europeans, and both GOP and Dem members of Congress—are concerned that recent US actions are an overreaction and that Iran may just be taking precautions against a perceived threat from the US.

One person who's apparently in the hesitant camp: President Trump, who is said to be angry and frustrated with Bolton and Pompeo's restlessness on the matter.

"They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed," a senior administration official tells the Washington Post.

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This article originally appeared on Newser: Photos Taken May 3 Added Fuel to Iran Fears