President Donald Trump said Monday that if he were to go to war with Iran it would be over nuclear weapons. ‘I would certainly go over nuclear weapons,’ Trump told Time when asked what would lead him to take military action against Iran, but alluded there could be another reason, ‘and I would keep the other a question mark.’
The president also said the Middle East nation’s danger has’ been very minor’ so far, which seems to say a distinct tale from the Pentagon and the intelligence community. Just before his interview, released on Monday night, Iran announced it would break the enriched uranium limit set by the 2015 nuclear agreement with six world powers within 10 days. Initially all the permanent members of the UN Security Council— U.S., U.K., Russia, France, and China — and Germany were engaged in the deal, but Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal in May 2018.
The U.S. has also attributed two recent attack in the Gulf of Oman on Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers on Iran, claiming the intelligence community has enough evidence to show it was Iran’s doing. ‘It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the State Department last week.
‘This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to executive the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,’ he continued.
He doubled down on those claimed Sunday morning, asserting he would not have pegged the attack on Iran if the intelligence community wasn’t sure. Trump said he agrees with the intelligence assessment.
‘I don’t think too many people don’t believe it,’ he told Time, but also continued to downplay the spiralling relations with Iran. ‘If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing that agreement, where it was always ‘death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,’ I’m not hearing that too much anymore,’ Trump said. ‘And I don’t expect to.’
The Pentagon also announced Monday it is deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East. ‘The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,’ acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement Monday.
Just last month 1,500 troops were deployed to the region as tensions between Tehran and Washington continued to boil. Pompeo said the U.S. is ‘considering a full range of options’ to respond to the attacks, and said ‘of course’ that includes military action.