National Security & Defense

Trump Orders Strike On Iran Then Abruptly Cancels It

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about border security in the Briefing Room at the White House, January 3, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Update 9:30a.m.: President Trump announced Friday morning that he called off the retaliatory strike because he believed the resulting loss of life would be disproportionate to the destruction of an unmanned drone.

President Trump ordered a retaliatory missile strike against Iran but called the plan off Thursday evening, hours before the missiles were set to launch.

Top national security officials told the New York Times that they were planning to strike a number of Iranian targets, including radar and missile batteries, on Friday morning, but were called off around 7p.m. Thursday evening after the jets that would have carried out the strike were in the air.

It remains unclear whether the would-be strike, which was planned in response to the downing of a U.S. intelligence drone over the Strait of Hormuz, was cancelled due to operational obstacles or for more diplomatic reasons.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton advised the president to carry out the retaliatory strike, according to ABC News.

An unmanned $130 million surveillance drone was flying in international airspace Thursday morning when it was hit by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to U.S. Central Command. Iranian officials, meanwhile, claimed the drone had encroached on Iran airspace before it was shot down and said the attack should serve as a “clear message” to the U.S.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander general Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” Captain Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have continued to escalate in recent weeks amid a series of explosive attacks on international oil tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-third of the world’s oil supply flows. There have been six such attacks since May, all of which have been attributed to Iranian forces by the Trump administration.

Iran also announced last week that its stockpile of low-enriched uranium would be made to exceed the limits imposed by the 2015 international nuclear accord within ten days if the pact’s remaining European signatories failed to shield Iran from the effects of U.S. sanctions.

In response, the Pentagon announced Monday the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East


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