Trump Pulled Back Strikes on Iran Amidst Speculations; UN Meets on Monday
US military made preparations to strike Iranian targets in retaliation for downing of drone, media reports say
US President Donald Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching attacks, US media reports said on Friday.
Citing senior White House officials, The New York Times reported an operation sanctioned by Trump to launch attacks on a “handful of Iranian targets” – including radar and missile batteries – was “in its early stages” on Thursday evening when the US leader changed tack and called it off.
US asks for UN Security Council meeting
Meanwhile, the US has asked the UN Security Council to meet on Iran behind closed-doors on Monday, diplomats told Reuters news agency.
“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 UN said in a note to council colleagues
Planes were in the air and ships were in position when the order to stand down came, the Times cited one unidentified administration official as saying.
The Washington Post and ABC News also reported the developments, citing unnamed White House officials and other sources said to be familiar with the matter.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday denouncing the incident as a “blatant violation of international law”.
“While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it reserves its inherent right … to take all appropriate necessary measures against any hostile act violating its territory, and is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air,” Ravanchi said.
The ISR Flight path and grid plots for the RQ-4A shot down by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time …” – Lt Gen Joseph Guastella, @USAFCENT pic.twitter.com/uczI5HF68b
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) June 20, 2019
The United States is trying to create “Iran phobia”, Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami said on Friday.
“Very complicated and suspicious conditions exist in the region,” Hatami was quoted as saying by the Iranian Labour News Agency. “It seems that all of this is in line with an overall policy for creating Iran phobia and creating a consensus against the Islamic Republic.”
Riyadh backs ‘maximum pressure’ campaign
Amid the rising friction, an official from Saudi Arabia said on Friday that Riyadh supported the US’s “maximum pressure campaign on Iran”.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi’s deputy defence minister, said in a tweet that he had discussed the latest “Iranian attacks” with US envoy for Iran Brian Hook during a meeting between the pair.
We affirmed the Kingdom’s support for the United States maximum pressure campaign on Iran, which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism, and discussed the latest Iranian attacks on the Kingdom
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) June 21, 2019
“We affirmed the kingdom’s support … which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism,” bin Salman said. He added the pair had explored “the latest efforts to counter hostile Iranian acts and continuous escalation that threaten the region’s security and stability”.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile told reporters she didn’t think Trump would engage the US in war, saying there was “no appetite” for it among Americans.
“It’s a dangerous situation. The high-tension wires are up in the region. We have to be strong and strategic about how we protect our interests. We also cannot be reckless in what we do,” Pelosi said.
Al Jazeera and News Agencies