Iran warns to respond to any melancholy adventure by Trump

November 17, 2020 - 21:21

TEHRAN – In its first reaction to a New York Times report alleging that President Donald Trump has asked for options on attacking an Iranian nuclear site, an Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic is ready to use its military power to respond to any military aggression.

Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York, said Iran’s nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes and civilian use and Trump’s policies have not changed that.

“However, Iran has proven to be capable of using its legitimate military might to prevent or respond to any melancholy adventure from any aggressor,” he told Reuters

Citing four current and former U.S. officials on Monday, The New York Times reported that President Trump asked senior advisers in an Oval Office meeting on Thursday whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. A range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike, said The New York Times, adding that the 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 — warned that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

The American publication also claimed that any strike — whether by missile or cyber — would almost certainly be focused on Natanz, where the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Wednesday that Iran’s uranium stockpile was now 12 times larger than permitted under the nuclear accord that Trump abandoned in 2018.

Administration officials told The New York Times that after Mr. 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.

However, the American publication claimed that the U.S. president might still be looking at ways to strike Iranian assets and allies, including groups in Iraq.

Reuters also confirmed the claim, citing a U.S. official that claimed Trump last week asked for options on attacking Iran’s main nuclear site, but ultimately decided against taking the dramatic step.

“He asked for options. They gave him the scenarios and he ultimately decided not to go forward,” Reuters quoted the official as saying on Monday.

The news agency suggested that a strike on the Natanz facility could be an effort to burden Joe Biden with new foreign policy challenges at the start of his contested presidency. A strike on Iran’s main nuclear site at Natanz could flare into a regional conflict and pose a serious foreign policy challenge for Biden, Reuters said.

Trump has pursued an aggressive foreign policy toward Iran over the past four years. In addition to imposing sweeping sanctions, he threatened to attack Iran on many occasions, including after Iran downed a U.S. drone that had violated the Iranian airspace over the strategic Strait of Hormuz on June 20, 2019. At that time, Trump claimed that he ordered attacks on Iran but he called off the attacks minutes before they were launched.

SM/PA

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