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Trump Cancels Strikes on Iran at Last Minute


American President Donald Trump says he canceled a planned military strike on Iran after being told as many as 150 people could be killed.

The attack plan was made to answer Iran’s strike Thursday on a huge, unpiloted U.S. military drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran shot down the plane. The incident increased fears of possible war between the two countries. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have recently risen following American withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

In a series of Tweets early Friday, Trump said the U.S. military’s plan had targeted three different Iranian sites. He said he canceled the strikes 10 minutes before they were supposed to be launched. He said the planned attack, which could have killed many people, was not “proportionate” to Iran’s downing of an unpiloted drone.

Trump added he was in “no hurry” to answer Iran’s actions. He also said the U.S. ordered additional sanctions against Iran on Thursday night. It was not immediately clear what those economic restrictions may be.

Also on Friday, a top Iranian general told reporters that a U.S. spy plane with around 35 crew members was flying close to the unpiloted U.S. Navy Global Hawk drone that was shot down. The military official said Iran chose not to target the plane carrying people.

Debris from what Iran's Revolutionary Guard aerospace division describes as the U.S. drone which was shot down on Thursday is displayed in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019. (Meghdad Madadi/ Tasnim News Agency via AP)
Debris from what Iran's Revolutionary Guard aerospace division describes as the U.S. drone which was shot down on Thursday is displayed in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019. (Meghdad Madadi/ Tasnim News Agency via AP)

The downing of the U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz led to accusations from the United States and Iran about who was the aggressor. Iran said the drone was violating its airspace; the U.S. said it had been flying over international waters.

Trump’s first comments on the attack Thursday were short and simple. He declared in a tweet that “Iran made a very big mistake!” He also suggested that shooting down the drone was a foolish mistake instead of a planned effort to worsen relations between the countries.

Trump spent most of the day Thursday discussing Iran policy with top advisers and congressional leaders.

An unnamed Trump official told Reuters reporters that national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and intelligence director Gina Haspel all reportedly favored a strike against Iran. The Trump official asked not to be named.

The U.S. military operation was called off around 7:30 Thursday night Washington time.

Iranian officials told Reuters that Iran had received a message from Trump warning that a U.S. attack on Iran would happen very soon. But they also reported the message said Trump was against war and wanted talks on several issues.

The message came from an Omani official.

One Iranian official told Reuters that Trump gave them “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.”

A second Iranian official said: “We have made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision.

That official also said Iran told the Omani official that “any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

Khamenei makes the final decision on all state matters. He has opposed any talks with the United States while Iran is under sanctions.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and the Reuters news agency. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

proportionate - adj. having a size, number, or amount that is directly related to or appropriate for something

sanctions - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural

response - n. something that is done as a reaction to something else

convey - v. to make (something) known to someone

regional - adj. relating to an area

consequence - n. something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions