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Trump doesn’t want to go to war with Iran, new report says

President Donald J. Trump walks from the Oval Office of the White House Tuesday, May 14, 2019, for his departure aboard Marine One to begin his trip to Louisiana. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
May 16, 2019

President Donald Trump doesn’t want to go to war with Iran, he told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan this week, according to a new report.

Trump and top officials were in a meeting in the Situation Room on Wednesday when he was asked if the U.S. was going to war with Iran; he replied, “I hope not,” The New York Times reported Thursday.

It was reported earlier this week that as many as 120,000 U.S. troops could be sent to the Middle East if Iran were to wage an attack on American forces, according to an updated military plan outlined to President Trump last week. The revised military proposal did not include a ground invasion of Iran, which would require significantly more troops, national security officials told the Times.

Last week, Shanahan had presented Trump with the revised plan, and The New York Times reported that changes were driven by national security advisor John Bolton, who has for at least a decade spoken about confrontation with Iran.

Trump has pushed back on the report that he is definitely sending troops to the Middle East, and he tweeted about Iran on Wednesday.

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“The Fake News Washington Post, and even more Fake News New York Times, are writing stories that there is infighting with respect to my strong policy in the Middle East. There is no infighting whatsoever…. Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision – it is a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,” he wrote.

The U.S. earlier this month sent the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region in direct response to Iran’s escalating behavior and threats in what Bolton said was a “clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

The next day, four B-52 bombers were deployed to the Middle East in preparation for potential attacks that have been threatened by Iran or its allies on U.S. troops.

Its behavior indicates that Iran is clearly not pleased with such actions, which also include removing waivers that would permit U.S. allies to bypass sanctions and export Iranian oil, as well as the official designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

Tensions with Iran have escalated quickly, as Iran recently designated all U.S. troops in the Middle East to be “terrorists,” and just this week Iran threatened to attack Israel should U.S. combat troops newly deployed to the region make a move.

Iran has also been difficult when it comes to abiding by the 2015 nuclear accord, which the U.S. left more than a year ago. It has recently made threats to resume high-level uranium enrichment most likely in order to try and develop nuclear weapons unless Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia do not protect Iran from U.S. sanctions.

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Iran did the same last summer, threatening to resume high-level uranium enrichment if the European countries allow the nuclear deal to fall apart.

This past December, Trump Administration officials said the President was considering plans to withdraw half of the 14,000 U.S. personnel deployed to Afghanistan over the next few months. The report came the day after Trump announced plans to officially withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria. It was later reported that the U.S. was pulling 1,000 troops from Afghanistan for “efficiency.”