Late Thursday night, The New York Times published an anonymously sourced report that sent shockwaves through the nation: the president reportedly approved a strike on Iran in retaliation for the terror-sponsoring state downing a U.S. surveillance drone but then pulled back mid-strike. “Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said,” the Times reported. The Associated Press has since reported that the U.S. “abruptly called off preparations for a military strike against Iran.”
Friday morning, Trump issued his first public statement about Iran since the reports. In a series of tweets, Trump took aim at the Obama administration’s “terrible deal with Iran,” defended his decision to pull out of Obama’s much-maligned Iran deal, and explained his rationale for pulling back on the strike.
“President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran — Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH!” Trump wrote in a series of posts. “Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!”
The president then specifically addressed the claims in the reports on the canceled strike. “On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters,” Trump wrote. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
“I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” he continued. “Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”
On Thursday night, The New York Times reported that U.S. military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike against Iran, “as late as 7 p.m. Thursday,” after “intense discussions and debate” among the nation’s top national security officials and congressional leaders.
“Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries,” the Times reported. “The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.”
Following the Times’ bombshell report, Reuters reported that Iranian officials said that Trump warned them about an imminent strike, but called for talks and made clear he did not want war. “Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent but saying he was against war and wanted talks on a range of issues,” Reuters reported.
“In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one of the Iranian sources told Reuters. “He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei to decide about this issue.”