Defense Secretary Mark Esper Friday denied the United States is planning to send an additional 14,000 troops to the Middle East.

“Reports of this are flat out wrong,” Esper said in a press release in response to a report in the Wall Street Journal. “DOD will always stand ready to respond to future actions by our adversaries if and when they arise, but the Pentagon is not considering sending 14,000 troops to Centcom.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday the administration was considering doubling the number of U.S. military personnel sent to the region since May. Increased deployment would help protect U.S. interests in the region and serve as a deterrent to Iran, which is reeling under increased economic sanctions.

Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah denied the report on Twitter Wednesday and Esper emphasized it Friday.

“This report is false,” Esper concluded.

The denial comes one day after President Trump hinted deployments could be increased in the face of Iran’s reported transfer of short-range missiles to Iraq.

“There might be a threat and if there is a threat, it will be met very strongly. But we’ll be announcing whatever we may be doing — may or may not be doing,” Trump said during a White House luncheon with the permanent representatives to the U.N. Security Council.

Trump pulled U.S. troops out of northern Syria in early October, allowing Turkey to sweep into the area to move Kurdish fighters away from its border. He also blamed Iran for a September strike on Saudi oil facilities.

Tensions with Iran have been increasing since May 2018 whenTrump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement that was supposed to keep Tehran from enriching uranium to weapons grade levels and building nuclear weapons. Since then, Iran has exceeded levels stipulated in the agreement and the U.S. has upped sanctions.

There also have been several incidents that have included the downing of a U.S. drone and seizures of oil tankers. Iran also has been feuding with the remaining signatories to the nuclear agreement over whether its ballistic missile program is covered by the accord.