Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks live on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ)
The US averted a retaliatory military strike against Iran after learning that 150 people would be killed as a result, US President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday.
“On Monday they [Iran] 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,” Trump tweeted.
He continued to tweet, stating that the planned US attack was not “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”
Trump, in his series of tweets, also blasted former US president Barack Obama’s Iran deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear capacity. The Trump administration voided US participation in the deal, which also included signatories Russia, China, Germany, France and Great Britain.
“President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran - Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON,” Trump tweeted.
“Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!” Trump stated.
Trump said the plan was to hit three different sites in response to the drone's downing on Thursday, which Tehran said took place over its territory and which Washington said occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The drone incident aggravated fears of direct military confrontation between the longtime foes, and oil prices rose a further $1 per barrel to above $65.50 on Friday due to worries about possible disruptions to crude exports from the Gulf.
Republican Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz tweeted his support of the president. “We do not need to go to war with Iran over an unmanned drone until we have more information. I am done with endless, unconstitutional regime change wars in the Middle East,” Gaetz wrote.
Earlier on Friday, Iranian officials told Reuters that Tehran had received a message from Trump warning that a US attack on Iran was imminent but saying that he was against war and wanted talks on a range of issues.
News of that message, delivered through Oman overnight, came shortly after The New York Times
reported that Trump had called off air strikes targeting Iranian radar and missile batteries at the last minute.
"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 told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"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."
A second Iranian official said: "We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision. However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences."
Khamenei has the last say on all state matters and has ruled out any talks with Washington while Tehran is under sanctions.
Iran shot down the drone after weeks of festering tension amid a spate of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region.
In his initial response on Thursday, Trump said he was not eager to escalate a stand-off with Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and its support for proxies in various Middle East conflicts.
He said the unmanned drone might have been shot down in error by someone who was acting "loose and stupid," though added: "This country will not stand for it."
In a sign that the United States may be interested in pursuing diplomacy for now, it asked the UN Security Council to meet on Iran behind closed doors on Monday, diplomats said.
"We will brief the council on the latest developments with regard to Iran and present further information from our investigation into the recent tanker incidents," the US mission to the United Nations said in a note to council colleagues, seen by Reuters.
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