President Donald Trump said yesterday he is in “no hurry” to bomb Iran, revealing that US forces were “cocked and loaded” to retaliate after the downing of a US spy drone but that he called them back in order to avoid mass casualties.
“I am in no hurry,” Trump said in a series of tweets detailing his thought process during the late Thursday decision to send, and then recall, US forces.
“10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” the president said, explaining that a general had told him to expect 150 deaths on the Iranian side and that he had concluded this would not be a “proportionate” response.
Trump said the Pentagon had selected three sites in Iran for bombing. He also said that he preferred to move forward with economic pressure.
“Sanctions are biting & more added last night,” Trump said. “Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”
The White House and Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump on Thursday approved military strikes on Iran before calling them off. Officials were still expecting the operation to move forward at 7:00 pm, reports said.
The New York Times, which first reported on the president’s approval of the strikes, wrote that Trump had approved attacks on Iranian targets like radar and missile batter-ies.
“The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off,” one official said. “Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.”
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said Washington had no appetite for war with Iran and should “do everything in our power to de-escalate.”
After a White House briefing for lawmakers, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, told reporters he was worried Trump “may bumble into a war” and said he and his fellow Democrats believed congressional approval was needed to fund any conflict with Iran, reported Reuters.
Iran vowed yesterday to defend its borders after downing the US drone it insisted had violated the country’s airspace.
The commander of the aerospace arm of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said the drone was warned twice before it was downed over the Gulf of Oman.
“This aircraft possesses a system which allows it to relay the signals and information it receives to its own central system,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh told state tele-vision.
Iran gave two warnings before downing the drone, he said. “Unfortunately, when they failed to reply and the army gave a second appeal at 3:55 am (2325 GMT Wednesday) and they kept on getting nearer and the aircraft made no change to its trajectory, at 4:05 am (2335 GMT) we were obliged to shoot it down.”
Iran’s state television broadcast images of what it said was debris from the downed US drone recovered inside its territorial waters, reported AFP.
US special representative on Iran, Brian Hook, yesterday called for diplomacy. “Our di-plomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force,” he told reporters in Saudi Arabia. “Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force.”
Oil prices edged down slightly yesterday following the previous day’s surge that saw prices soar more than six percent, while the price of gold -- seen as a safe haven asset -- struck near six-year highs.