In response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump approved a military strike against Iranian targets, but called off the operation late on Thursday, The New York Times reported on Friday, citing senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the plans.
On Thursday morning, Iran shot down a U.S. drone over the vital oil shipping lane, the Strait of Hormuz, in the latest escalation of the U.S.-Iran standoff in the Middle East that increased concerns about a possible military confrontation and sent oil prices spiking.
President Trump tweeted “Iran made a very big mistake!”, while Iran claims the drone was shot down because it was violating Iranian air space. Iran said invading its borders is the red line and it is ready for war, although it doesn’t intend to go into war with any country.
According to The New York Times, as the tension escalated on Thursday, President Trump gave the go-ahead for attacks on Iranian targets such as radar and missile batteries. A U.S. operation against Iran was already in its initial stages with planes in the air and ships in position, when the command came to stand down, a senior administration official told the NYT.
The strike was planned for just before dawn in Iran on Friday to minimize risks for civilians, but the U.S. military was told to abort, at least temporarily. It’s not clear if the planned strikes could still be held in the future, according to the NYT, which notes that is wasn’t clear why President Trump called off the strike either.
Iran received overnight a message from President Trump via Oman that a strike against Iran was imminent, Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday.
“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 Iranian official told Reuters.
Another official said that Iran has made clear that its leader rejects any talks, but will pass on the message to the Ayatollah.
“However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences,” the official told Reuters.
Additional escalation of the U.S-Iran tension and the possibility of military strikes could lead to further increases in oil prices.