President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE called an oil tanker attack the U.S. has blamed on Iran “very minor” but said in an interview with Time magazine he would be willing to go to war to prevent the nation from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Trump was noncommittal on whether protecting international oil supplies would be a justification for war, telling the magazine, “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons, and I would keep the other a question mark.”
Trump told the magazine the Gulf of Oman, where the attack occurred, is less strategically important to the U.S. than it has been in years past, adding it was more relevant to Chinese and Japanese interests.
“Other places get such vast amounts of oil there,” Trump told the magazine. “We get very little. We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy.”
Trump added that while he agreed with assessments blaming Iran for the attack, he believed Iran’s government has been less hostile toward the U.S. since his inauguration.
“If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing [the 2015 nuclear deal], where it was always ‘death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,’ I’m not hearing that too much anymore,” he said.
The comments come after several days of the Pentagon and State Department indicating all options are on the table in response to the Thursday attack, for which Iran has denied responsibility.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoState Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE said Sunday that the U.S. is looking at “a full range of options,” including a potential military response, and is scheduled to visit U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, on Tuesday.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanSenators introducing bill to penalize Pentagon for failed audits Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon MORE, meanwhile, announced Monday evening the Defense Department has authorized the deployment of about 1,000 additional troops to the region for “defensive purposes.”
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” he said in a statement.
The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia have said they agree with the U.S. assessment, but Germany's foreign minister has said the U.S. must present further evidence. The owner of one of the two ships involved in the attack has also contradicted the U.S. account.
In recent months, Iran has announced it will scale back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, with Trump withdrew the U.S. from more than a year ago.