President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE’s senior advisers dissuaded him from conducting a military strike on Iran in the final weeks of his presidency to halt its growing nuclear program, The New York Times reported Monday.
Four current and former U.S. officials told the Times that the president asked senior advisers in an Oval Office meeting Thursday if he had options to attack Iran’s main nuclear site.
His request came a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the country’s uranium stockpile was 12 times higher than allowed under the Iran nuclear deal that the administration left in 2018. The international watchdog also reported Iran did not let inspectors enter a location where there was evidence of past nuclear activity.
The advisers who urged the president against such an attack reportedly included Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? MORE, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' We've left Afghanistan — but its consequences are just starting to arrive Key Iraq War strategist and former Army chief Raymond Odierno dies at 67 MORE, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The advisers cautioned that the U.S. making such a move could increase tensions with Iran and could lead to a bigger conflict. Administration officials with knowledge of the discussion told the Times that officials left the meeting thinking a missile attack was not being considered.
Officials noted that the president may still be examining ways to attack Iran and its allies such as militias in Iraq, the Times reported.
The White House did not provide a comment to The Hill.
Such a move may not sit well with Trump’s base, the Times notes, as the president has often advocated for less U.S. involvement in the Middle East, but it could also sour relations with Iran as President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE begins his term.
The Times report comes after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump Defense chief blocked idea to send 250,000 troops to border: report Overnight Defense & National Security — Afghanistan concerns center stage with G-20 US Army investigating raising of Confederate flag at base in Germany MORE and other top Pentagon officials last week. Pentagon and national security officials have privately expressed concerns that the president will take action against Iran or other adversaries in the final weeks of his presidency.
Officials told the newspaper that Pompeo is monitoring events in Iraq for any attack against American diplomats or troops from Iran or its militias. The secretary of State had created plans to shut down the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, reported by The Washington Post in September, but recently expressed a willingness to hold off.
Officials said if Americans are killed before Inauguration Day, it could alter current plans.