Trump Dissuaded By Advisers From Launching Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Program
After an inspector general’s report showed a significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear materials, President Donald Trump asked senior advisers Thursday what options he had to take military action against Iran’s main nuclear site.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Wednesday that Iran’s uranium stockpile at the Natanz site is now 12 times larger than what was allowed under the nuclear accord that Trump gave up two years ago. The IAEA also noted Iran’s refusal to grant access to another suspected nuclear site.
The Iranians continued to abide by the original nuclear restrictions, despite Trump pulling out of the accord. However, the country has slowly been edging out of the limits beginning last year, arguing that if Trump could violate the terms of the agreement, so could they.
According to a New York Times report, several of the president’s closest advisers warned him not to escalate tensions with a military strike, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Gen. Mark Milley.
Defense Department officials have worried over a potential strike or conflict with Iran in recent weeks, particularly after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Pentagon staff was shaken up.
Officials are particularly concerned about the Jan. 3 anniversary of the U.S. strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the Iraqi leader of an Iranian-backed militia — deaths that many Iranian leaders view as unavenged.
Any retaliatory attack that kills an American would likely provoke action from the Trump administration.
Pompeo has also been carefully watching for any threats to the U.S. on the ground in and even created a plan to close the US embassy in Baghdad, though the Times reports he will likely leave that decision to be made by the incoming administration.