President Donald Trump asked senior White House advisers last week for options to attack Iran’s main nuclear site, according to The New York Times.
Trump’s request came during a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office, The Times reported, but officials talked him out of pursuing military action.
A range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike. 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.
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 Mr. Trump abandoned in 2018. The agency also noted that Iran had not allowed it access to another suspected site where there was evidence of past nuclear activity.
The Times reported that Trump raised the issue “a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in the country’s stockpile of nuclear material, four current and former U.S. officials said on Monday.”
After Trump was informed of the potential risks associated with military escalation, officials “left the meeting believing a missile attack inside Iran was off the table,” per the report.
Mr. Trump might still be looking at ways to strike Iranian assets and allies, including militias in Iraq, officials said. A smaller group of national security aides had met late Wednesday to discuss Iran, the day before the meeting with the president.
White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Image credit: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain