Donald Trump reportedly ’planned nuclear strike’ after loss

Iran threatens ‘crushing response’ to US attack after Trump was ‘talked out of’ striking nuke site

Iran has threatened a “crushing response” to any US strike after Donald Trump reportedly was talked out of hitting a nuclear site.

Iran has vowed to strike back at the United States in response to any attack on its nuclear facilities.

It comes after reports US President Donald Trump was exploring options to strike Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks.

The President was said to have asked top advisers about attacking the country’s nuclear facilities, according to The New York Times.

The advisers reportedly warned Mr Trump the move could spark war in his final two months in office and dissuaded him from going ahead with the military strike.

“Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response,” spokesman Ali Rabiei said, in remarks streamed on an official government website.

Mr Trump’s plan was aired during a meeting at the Oval Office last Thursday, with several top aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, the newspaper said.

The outgoing Republican leader was reported to have asked “whether he had options to take action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks”.

Officials told the newspaper that international inspectors reported a significant increase in the country’s stockpile of nuclear material, which sparked Mr Trump’s concern.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation shows a warehouse after it was damaged at the Natanz facility, one of Iran's main uranium enrichment plants, south of the capital Tehran.

A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran now had a stockpile of more than 2442kg of low-enriched uranium, enough to produce about two nuclear weapons.

Any attack would likely be on Natanz, where the agency reported that Tehran’s “uranium stockpile was now 12 times larger than permitted under the nuclear accord that Mr Trump abandoned in 2018”, three years after it was signed in a bid to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

But Mr Trump would have been long gone from office by the time Iran took the several months required to enrich the uranium to bomb-grade material.

The agency also reported inspectors were not allowed to look at sites suspected of holding uranium and other nuclear materials.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vowed to take ‘any opportunity’ to lift US sanctions on Tehran, following President Donald Trump's loss to Democratic election rival Joe Biden.

According to administration officials the Times spoke to, the group left Thursday’s meeting believing an attack was off the table, after Mr Pompeo and General Milley outlined the potential risks of military escalation.

The meeting came days after Mr Trump fired Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, which sparked Pentagon officials to fear an escalation between the US and Iran.

Defence Department and other national security officials have privately expressed worries that the president might initiate operations, whether overt or secret, against Iran or other adversaries at the end of his term.

Mr Trump fired US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Former Defence official turned Democratic Michigan representative Elissa Slotkin said there would only be a few reasons to fire a secretary of defence with 72 days left in an administration.

“One would be incompetence or wrongdoing, which do not seem to be the issue with Secretary Esper,” she told the Times.

“A second would be vindictiveness, which would be an irresponsible way to treat our national security.

“A third would be because the president wants to take actions that he believes his secretary of defence would refuse to take, which would be alarming.”

The move further destabilised a government already navigating Mr Trump's refusal to concede election defeat.

Last month, Mr Trump told Iran they had been “put on notice”.

“If you f*** around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are gonna do things to you that have never been done before,” he said during an interview.

Iran has long been Trump’s pet peeve, and he first reintroduced sanctions and then tightened them even further after scrapping the nuclear accord.

European partners in the accord have struggled to keep the deal afloat despite Mr Trump’s efforts to torpedo it, and are hoping for a renewed diplomatic approach after the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden on November 3, although Mr Trump refuses to concede his loss.

The Trump administration has pledged to step up the punitive measures, which some critics see as an attempt to build up a “wall of sanctions” that Mr Biden would have difficulty tearing down once he takes office.

The latest meeting demonstrated how Mr Trump still faces several global threats in his final weeks in office.

Increasing tensions with Iran will also harm Mr Biden’s chances to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that Mr Trump pulled out of in 2018, something Mr Biden promised to accomplish within his term.

Iran has long said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes despite the IAEA report saying Iran carried out nuclear activities in relation to the development of a nuclear explosive device near the end of 2003.

– with AFP

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