President Donald Trump told Iran that a military strike was coming on Thursday night, Iranian officials claim, despite reports suggesting that he approved an attack but ultimately backed out at the last minute.
Reuters cited two unnamed Iranian officials as saying that Trump had sent Tehran a message overnight on Thursday, using neighboring Oman as a back channel.
The message, Reuters said, warned that the US would attack imminently.
One official told the news agency: “In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues… he gave 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.
“We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision,” the other official said, according to Reuters. “However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”
The New York Times reported that Trump approved Iranian radar and missile batteries before dawn local time on Friday after consulting with national-security and congressional officials, but nixed the plan as late as 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The operation to strike Iran was already in its early stages when the White House called it off, with planes in the air and ships in position, the Times reported, citing an unnamed official.
The precise reason behind the reported cancelation remains unclear.
The latest escalation in US-Iranian tensions came after Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said it shot down a US drone that had entered Iranian airspace early Thursday morning.
Washington maintains that the drone had been in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
If the US drone was flying in international airpsace, Iran had no right to attack it.