U.S. NEWS Trump says he was ‘cocked & loaded’ to attack Iran, but called off strikes 10 minutes before
The president considered striking 3 sites as retaliation for the downing of a U.S. drone but decided the casualties would be too high.
An RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, in an undated photo released by the Air Force.Bobbi Zapka / U.S. Air Force/Reuters fileJune 21, 2019, 12:16 AM EDT / Updated June 21, 2019, 9:27 AM EDTBy Alex Johnson, Ali Arouzi and Kristen Welker
President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed that he was “cocked and loaded” to strike Iranian targets but deemed the loss of life would be disproportionate to the downing of a U.S. drone.
“On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International waters. We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on three different sites,” Trump said in a series of tweets.
….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not….28.8K9:03 AM – Jun 21, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy12.9K people are talking about this
The Times quoted a senior administration official as saying the operation was under way in its early stages — with planes in the air and ships in position — when it was called off.
The developments came as the United States and Iran continued to fight over whether the high-altitude U.S. surveillance drone had violated Iranian airspace when it was shot down Thursday.
On Friday, a senior official from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed several warnings were issued before the drone was downed.
“We have had two stages of warnings,” Cmdr. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on state television. “They did not respond.”
The aircraft was shot down after the last warning at 3:55 a.m. Thursday (7:25 p.m. ET Wednesday), he said. American officials did not respond to a request for comment on the Iranian claims.
The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said Friday it was “important we do everything” to de-escalate tensions.
“Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force, Iran needs to meet our diplomacy with diplomacy and not military force,” he told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in turn called on Trump to ease sanctions.
“Today’s crisis stems from Washington’s withdrawal from JCPOA, and obstructing real diplomatic overtures,” he said on Twitter,referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. “But this process is reversible. Every tangible constructive step will be met in kind.”
The incident has prompted the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, to prohibit most U.S. civil aircraft from flying in Iranian-controlled airspace over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
In a Notice to Airmen advisory, the FAA cited “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region, which present an inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations and potential for miscalculation or misidentification.”
The notice applies to almost all U.S. carriers and commercial operators.
Trump signaled earlier Thursday that the United States was considering options for how to respond to the shooting down of the U.S. drone, an unarmed Global Hawk aircraft that can fly at up to 60,000 feet.
“Iran made a very bad mistake,” Trump said. “The drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it documented.”
The commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami, said Thursday that the strike served as a signal that Iran wouldn’t back down from threats.
“We have no intention of war, but we are standing strong,” he said.
But Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, called the strike “an unprovoked attack,” saying: “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false.”
“Frankly if you’re going to make a strike, at least in my experience, you want to proceed with the strike as opposed to suddenly having your planes in the air and having to pull them back, as that can result in even greater miscalculations,” he told the show.
As for what the Iranians’ were aiming to do, Panetta said he was not sure either side has an “end game.”
“That makes it even more dangerous because as it ratchets up on both sides, the danger of a serious miscalculation, bad judgement, could really produce a military confrontation,” he said.
U.S. officials have also blamed Iran for what they said was an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Iran has denied any involvement.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced Monday that the United States would send 1,000 additional troops to the region to address what he called air, naval and ground-based threats.