Trump warned Iran via Oman that US attack was imminent: Iranian officials

Trump warned Iran via Oman that US attack was imminent: Iranian officials

DUBAI- Reuters
Trump warned Iran via Oman that US attack was imminent: Iranian officials

Iranian officials told Reuters on June 21 that Tehran had received a message from U.S. President Donald Trump through Oman overnight warned that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent.

"In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues ... 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," one of the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The second 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."

Trump approved military strikes on June 21 against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned $130-million surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching the attacks, the New York Times said.

Trump had initially approved strikes on a handful of targets such as radar and missile batteries, the paper cited senior administration officials involved in, or briefed on, the deliberations, as saying.

The strikes were set to take place just before dawn on June 21 to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, it added.

Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles fired, when the order to stand down came, it cited one senior administration official as saying.

The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been Trump's third military action against targets in the Middle East, the paper added, saying Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.

However, it is not clear whether attacks on Iran might still go forward, the paper said, adding that it was not known if the cancellation of strikes had resulted from Trump changing his mind or administration concerns regarding logistics or strategy. 

Trump on June 20 played down Iran's downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone, saying he suspected it was shot by mistake and "it would have made a big difference" to him had the remotely controlled aircraft been piloted.

While the comments appeared to suggest Trump was not eager to escalate the latest in a series of incidents with Iran, he also warned: "This country will not stand for it."

Tehran said the unarmed Global Hawk surveillance drone was on a spy mission over its territory, but Washington said it was shot down over international airspace.

I think probably Iran made a mistake. I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down," Trump told reporters at the White House.

"We had nobody in the drone. It would have made a big difference, let me tell you, it would have made a big, big difference" if the aircraft had been piloted, Trump said as he met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office.

"It's hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth," he added, saying it could have been carried out by someone who was acting "loose and stupid," and minimizing the incident as "a new wrinkle ... a new fly in the ointment."

The United States, which called the event an "unprovoked attack" in international airspace, is using economic sanctions to pressure Iran to contain its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and to limit its role in regional wars.

Trump, Iran, Strike, drone