Trump senior advisers dissuaded president from military strike on Iran: report

President Trump’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 Pompeo, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and Gen. Mark Milley, 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 Biden begins his term. 

The Times report comes after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper 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.

Tags 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Donald Trump International Atomic Energy Agency Iran Iran nuclear program Iraq Joe Biden Mark Esper Mark Milley Mike Pence Mike Pompeo military strike Military strike on Iran nuclear
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