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President Donald Trump has revealed that the US military was “cocked and loaded to retaliate” against Iran, but he changed his mind 10 minutes before planned strikes.

The president said he had called off strikes after being told 150 people would die.

Donald Trump tweeted: “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Attacks on three sites were planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week.

The late reversal was first reported by the New York Times on June 20. The newspaper said the operation had been “in its early stages” when President Trump stood the US military down.

On June 21, President Trump said: “I am in no hurry.”

“Our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world.”

The president said Iran had downed the drone on June 17, despite an earlier US military statement that the incident happened at 23:35 GMT on June 19 (04:05 Iran time on June 20).

On June 21, President Trump told NBC News that he decided not to give final approval to the planned strikes because of the predicted death toll.

He said: “I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate.”

Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace early on June 20. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace.

Tensions have been escalating between the two states, with the US recently blaming Iran for attacks on oil tankers operating in the region.

Iran has announced it will soon exceed international agreed limits on its nuclear program.

Mike Pompeo Blames Iran for Attacks on Gulf of Oman Tankers

President Donald Trump Re-Imposes Iran Sanctions Removed Under Nuclear Deal

President Donald Trump Pulls US Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.

“Iran can NEVER have nuclear weapons,” President Trump said in his tweets on the aborted strikes – also revealing that increased economic sanctions against Iran were “added last night”.

The US has now asked the UN Security Council to meet on June 24 to discuss Iran, Reuters reports.

In its initial report, The New York Times said that as late as 19:00 local time on June 20, US military and diplomatic officials had still expected the strikes to take place on agreed targets, including Iranian radar and missile batteries.

However, President Trump refuted this report on June 21, telling NBC that no planes were in the air.

The strikes had been set to take place just before dawn on June 21 to minimize risk to the Iranian military or to civilians, the New York Times report added.

Tweeting on June 21, President Trump said three sites had been targeted.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quoted a US official as saying the strikes had been recommended by the Pentagon and had been among options presented to senior administration officials.

According to the New York Times, top Pentagon officials warned a military response could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for US forces in the region.

The operation was called off after President Trump spent most of day on June 20 discussing Iran with his national security advisers and congressional leaders, AP reports.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton had pushed for a hard-line stance, but congressional leaders urged caution, the agency says.

Separately, Reuters quoted two Iranian officials as saying Tehran had received a message from President Trump through Oman overnight warning about an imminent US attack.

That report was later denied by a spokesman for Iran’s National Security Council, who said there was no truth to it and no message was sent.

In the US, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said America had no appetite for war with Iran, while the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden, called President Trump’s Iran strategy a “self-inflicted disaster”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a war would be a “catastrophe with unpredictable consequences”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

On June 20, the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting US airlines from operating in an overwater area of Tehran-controlled airspace nearby in response.

Airlines from other countries, as KLM, Emirates, British Airways and Qantas, have also said they will re-route their flights to avoid parts of Iran.

Saudi Arabia and three other Gulf countries have extended the deadline for Qatar to accept a list of demands by 48 hours, or face further sanctions.

The initial deadline for Qatar to agree to the group’s 13 demands, including the shutting down of the Al Jazeera news network, expired on July 2.

Qatar, which denies funding extremism, has given a formal response, but details have not been released.

The Gulf country has already called the demands an “affront to international law”.

The requirements include the closure of a Turkish military base in Qatar and the curbing of diplomatic relations with Iran.

Qatar Rejects List of Conditions for Lifting Sanctions

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani was in Kuwait on July 3 to hand over a formal response in the form of a letter from the emir of Qatar to the emir of Kuwait, the main mediator in the Gulf crisis.

Image source Wikimedia

In a statement released shortly beforehand, lawyers for Qatar denounced the demands and called for international condemnation.

They said the tactics were “reminiscent of the extreme and punitive conduct of <<bully>> states that have historically resulted in war.

“The world must unite immediately to halt the singling out of Qatar for unjustified collective punishment and humiliation and to preserve peace, security and prosperity in the region.”

Qatar Airways’ License Revoked by Saudi Arabia’s Aviation Authority

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions for weeks from Saudi Arabia and its allies, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

The four Gulf countries, whose foreign ministers will meet on July 5 to discuss the situation, have accused Qatar of harboring Islamist groups that they consider terrorist organizations – including the Muslim Brotherhood – and giving them a platform on the Al Jazeera satellite channel, which is funded by the Qatari state. Doha denies the accusations.

Five Gulf Countries Cut Diplomatic Ties with Qatar

The imposed restrictions have caused turmoil in Qatar, an oil- and gas-rich nation dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million. As a result, Iran and Turkey have been increasingly supplying it with food and other goods.

An unnamed official from one of the four countries told Reuters that Qatar was also being asked to sever links with so-called Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah.

The demands have not been officially unveiled. Their publication has increased the friction between the two sides.


The Saudi aviation authority has revoked Qatar Airways’ license to land and fly in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation also ordered its offices to be closed within 48 hours.

In a statement, the authority also said licenses granted to Qatar Airways’ employees would be withdrawn.

Saudi Arabia had already suspended flights to and from Qatar on June 5, amid a diplomatic row between the kingdom and Qatar.

Qatar Airways is wholly owned by the Qatari government.

Image source Wikimedia

The airline group employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker is also a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings, which operates London’s biggest airport.

Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf countries have cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism in the region.

Other neighbors, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have closed their airspace to Qatari planes.

Six countries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives – cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have given Qatari nationals two weeks to leave and banned their own citizens from travelling to Qatar.

Qatar’s capital, Doha, is a major hub for international flight connections.

Other airlines affected by the airspace restrictions include Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.

When avoiding Saudi Arabia, their massive – and only – neighbor, Qatar’s planes are having to take more indirect routes, leading to longer flight times.