According to a New York Times report published on Monday, President Donald Trump asked his advisors about the possibility of attacking a nuclear site in Iran before he leaves office.
The question was asked during a meeting in the Oval Office last Thursday, in a discussion about a recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which indicated that Iran’s stockpiles of uranium had reached 12 times the 300-kilogram limit set in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Obama struck with the country in 2015.
Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, which gave the country permission to resume gathering uranium, although that was not the intended impact.
President Trump is said to have sought options last week for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program, but was dissuaded by advisers. https://t.co/FtjSCcQSOe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 17, 2020
Trump withdrew from the deal to signal tougher diplomacy, but the plan appears to have backfired. After Trump pulled out of the deal and increased economic sanctions on Iran, the country’s government promised to increase uranium enrichment beyond the purity threshold it previously agreed to.
A U.S. official said that President Donald Trump asked top aides last week for options on attacking Iran's main nuclear site but ultimately decided against it https://t.co/QJOqiA87dz pic.twitter.com/NolbTWxvQM
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 17, 2020
The Times report said that Trump asked his highest-ranking national security advisers what possible military responses were available to him. Trump’s advisors urged caution and suggested that taking military action could break out into a full-blown war, which would not be a good note to leave the White House on. Some of the officials who advised against the move were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Ultimately, Trump decided to go with the advice of his trusted officials, but those close to the administration fear that he could be planning proxy attacks on Iranian allies in Iraq.
On Tuesday, the government of Iran responded to the report, promising that any attack from the US would face a “crushing response”
“Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, according to Reuters.
Ali Rabiei insisted that the country is only developing a nuclear program for peaceful reasons.
“I personally don’t foresee that it’s probable that [the United States] would want to cause insecurity in the world and the region,” Rabiei said.
Since the election, The Trump administration has moved to fire or replace numerous high-ranking officials in the US government.
Last week, CNN reported that top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, have been fired or forced to resign in the days since the election results were announced. After Esper’s departure was reported, four additional senior civilian officials with the Pentagon were also fired or forced to resign, including Esper’s chief of staff.
Esper was replaced by Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Inside sources believe that the Trump administration now plans to fire and replace Esper’s undersecretaries.
Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the first woman to oversee the agency in charge of the nuclear stockpile, was also required to resign after the election.
Meanwhile, Bonnie Glick, deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development was replaced by acting Administrator John Barsa, and Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was also replaced in the past two weeks.