Report: Trump sought options for attack on Iran

New York Times reports: Trump's senior advisers dissuaded him from attack on Iran's main nuclear site in the weeks before he steps down.

Elad Benari ,

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

US President Donald Trump asked senior advisers during a meeting at the Oval Office last Thursday whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing four current and former US officials.

According to the report, a range of senior advisers— including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Christopher C. Miller, the acting defense secretary; and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike. They warned him that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.

Thursday’s meeting occurred a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported a significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material, in violation of the 2015 deal it signed with world powers.

During the meeting, according to The New York Times, Trump asked his top national security aides what options were available and how to respond, officials said.

After Pompeo and General Milley described the potential risks of military escalation, officials left the meeting believing a missile attack inside Iran was off the table, according to administration officials with knowledge of the meeting.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran since 2018, when it withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and has ramped up the sanctions in recent weeks, after its efforts to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran did not succeed.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse Trump’s decision and rejoin the 2015 deal if Iran returns to compliance with it, though officials have estimated that sanctions targeting Iran would persist into Biden’s administration.

Last week, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, warned in an interview with Fox News that Israel could attack Iran if it detected a threat from it, even in the final days of the Trump administration.