U.S. President Donald Trump said that he ordered a strike on Iran, but then called it back when he learned that it could lead to a high number of casualties.
“We were cocked and 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 I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote on Twitter in the afternoon of June 21.
The U.S. President went on to say that he is “in no hurry,” and stressed that the tight sanctions on Iran will continue to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.
“Iran can never have nuclear weapons, not against the USA, and not against the world!” Trump added.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
The New York Times was the first to reveal that Trump had approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, but called off the attacks at the last minute.
While Trump claims that the high number of expected casualties was behind his decision to cancel the strike, other factors may have played a bigger role in that shift. Iran vowed to respond to any attack by the U.S, which means that any strike was going to lead to a serious military confrontation in the Persian Gulf.
Trump’s vague statement doesn’t clarify if the U.S. has taken the military option completely off the table, or if it is now looking for a more limited response.