President Trump said Friday that he never gave final approval for a military strike against Iran — apparently softening his earlier statement that the US was “cocked and loaded” and ready to retaliate until he called it off with minutes to spare.
The president told NBC News‘ “Meet the Press” that there were no military aircraft flying when he called off the action.
“No, but they would have been pretty soon, and things would have happened to a point where you would not turn back, you could not turn back,” the commander-in-chief said.
“Nothing was greenlighted until the very end because things change.”
Trump said he asked his generals, “I want to know something before you go. How many people would be killed, in this case Iranians?”
The generals said about 150 people could be killed, the president said.
“I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead,” Trump said.
“And I didn’t like it, I didn’t think, I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
The president’s comments were less bellicose than those unleashed on Twitter earlier in the day.
“On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General 10 minutes before the strike,” the president wrote in a series tweets on Iran.
“I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!” the commander-in-chief added.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the president had not received an estimate of the death toll before ordering the retaliatory strike.
Trump said the plan was to hit three sites in response to the drone’s downing on Thursday, which Tehran insisted took place over its territory but which Washington said occurred in international airspace over the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
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