Trump considered attacking Iran, dissuaded by top advisers

Pence, Pompeo helped talk the president out of a military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

President Donald Trump asked top American officials about conducting a military strike on Iran in the final weeks of his presidency but was talked out of making the move, the New York Times reported Monday.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was 12 times what was allowed under the Iran nuclear deal.

On Thursday, Trump asked his top advisers about a strike against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks, the Times report said.

Those present at the meeting who advised against an attack included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

Trump’s top advisers warned that a military strike on Iran now could spark a wider conflict. Officials told the Times that the president may still be considering ways to hit Iran and its proxy militias in the region.

“Any strike — whether by missile or cyber — would almost certainly be focused on Natanz,” considered to be the main Iranian nuclear development facility, the Times report said.

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Last week, the president fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and several other top Pentagon aides, sparking concerns among defense officials that Trump might take action against “Iran or other adversaries” before leaving the White House in January.

“A strike on Iran may not play well to his base, which is largely opposed to a deeper American conflict in the Middle East,” according to the Times.

An American strike on Iran would “poison relations with Tehran” and block President-elect Joe Biden from getting America back into the Iran nuclear accord from which Trump withdrew in 2018, the article said.

“It is concerning that Iran continues to breach limits set by the nuclear deal,” the Washington-based Arms Control Association said in its assessment of the latest IAEA report.

The IAEA report noted the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency’s continuing frustration with “Tehran’s failure to provide satisfactory and timely answers” as to why uranium particles were found at an undeclared site in February 2019, the Association said.