Amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran after Iran downed an American surveillance drone, The New York Times reported Thursday night that President Trump approved a strategic strike on Iran but, with planes “in the air” and ships in position, pulled back last second.
“As late as 7 p.m. Thursday, military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations,” The New York Times reported. “Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.”
The Associated Press reported a less dramatic version of events, saying that rather than calling off a strike mid-air, the U.S. “abruptly called off preparations for a military strike against Iran.” Sources say the strikes would have targeted Iranian missile and radar batteries and would have taken place early in the day, when the risk to military personnel or civilians was lowest.
Reuters has since reported that Tehran says Trump warned them about an imminent strike but called for talks in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
“Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent but saying he was against war and wanted talks on a range of issues,” Reuters reports.
“In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one of the officials, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. “He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei to decide about this issue.”
“We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision,” a second source told Reuters. “However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”
Trump has yet to publicly address the Times report. His last social media post on Iran was issued early Thursday. “Iran made a very big mistake!” he posted. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he does not want war with Iran but has also stressed that they will face consequences if they continue to act aggressively.
As The Daily Wire reported, amid the heightened tensions with Iran, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday night that U.S.-registered aircraft are now prohibited from flying in the region.
“The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) prohibiting U.S.-registered aircraft from operating over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman,” the FAA said in a statement issued late Thursday night. “The NOTAM warns pilots that flights are not permitted in the overwater area of the Tehran Flight Information Region until further notice, due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions that might place commercial flights at risk. The NOTAM applies to all U.S. air carriers and commercial operators.”