President Donald Trump considered attacking the main nuclear site in Iran but dropped the plan after a crucial Oval office meeting last week, reports have said.
The question whether to attack Iran was popped during an Oval Office meeting which was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The official who leaked the information to the New York Times said top national security advisers apprised Trump of the consequences of such an attack. They warned that an attack on Iran at this point might trigger a broader conflict. "He asked for options. They gave him the scenarios and he ultimately decided not to go forward," the official said.
The officials warned the President that an attack on Iran could escalate into a wider conflict and muddy his final days in the office. Trump, who lost a close election to Democrat Joe Biden, has not conceded but has only two months left in the office for as far as anyone can see.
Trump Move Came After IAEA Report
Trump toyed with the idea of taking down Iran's nuclear research facilities a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran is steadily increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
The UN watchdog also said that Iran moved advanced centrifuges from an above-ground plant at its main uranium enrichment site to an underground one, breaching the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers. Trump, who maintained a tough stance on Iran throughout his presidency, had pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The IAEA also said in its latest report that Iran now has a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms reported on August 25.
Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of only 202.8 kilograms of enriched uranium. With the US pulling out of the nuclear deal and the introduction of new sanctions, Tehran adopted an aggressive stance probably in a bid to force the world powers to get the US back on the deal.
Iran Has Significant Quantity of Potential Bomb Material
According to the IAEA, Iran is also enriching uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the terms of the nuclear deal. "A full and prompt explanation from Iran regarding the presence of uranium particles of anthropogenic origin... at a location in Iran not declared to the Agency, is needed," the IAEA said.
Last month the IAEA said Iran was short of 'significant quantity' of potential bomb material. By 'significant quantity' IAEA means the ballpark amount of nuclear material with which the making of a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded. The statement made it clear that Tehran has made advances in pursuit of its alleged clandestine nuclear weapons program.
Attack on Iranian Allies and Assets Not Ruled Out
The NYT report says that high-ranking officials like Pompeo and Milley advised against the plan to launch a missile attack on Iran's nuclear sites. The officials left the Oval office meeting convinced that the President would not order an attack on Iranian soil, the report said. However, they confided that the possibility of the US striking Iranian allies and assets in the region still remained.