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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Gulf of Oman"

Standoffs With Iran Test Trump’s Resolve to Use Military Force

WASHINGTON — By the time President Trump met with congressional leaders on the afternoon of June 20, he had already decided to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone. But for once, he kept his cards close to the vest, soliciting advice rather than doing all of the talking.

“Why don’t you go after the launch sites?” a Republican lawmaker asked.

“Well,” Mr. Trump replied with a hint, “I think you’ll like the decision.”

But barely three hours later, Mr. Trump had changed his mind. Without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser, he reversed himself and, with ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies, told the Pentagon to call off the airstrikes with only 10 minutes to go. When Vice President Mike Pence and other officials returned to the White House for what they expected would be a long night of monitoring a military operation, they were stunned to learn the attack was off.

That about-face, so typically impulsive, instinctive and removed from any process, proved a decision point for a president who has often threatened to “totally destroy” enemies but at the same time has promised to extricate the United States from Middle East wars. It revealed a commander in chief more cautious than critics have assumed, yet underscored the limited options in a confrontation he had set in motion.

Three months later, some of Mr. Trump’s own allies fear the failure to follow through was taken by Iran as a sign of weakness, emboldening it to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia this month. Mr. Trump argues his decision was an expression of long-overdue restraint by a nation that has wasted too many lives and dollars overseas.

But he finds himself back where he was in June, wrestling with the consequences of using force and the consequences of avoiding it, except now Iran is accused of an even more brazen provocation, and the stakes seem even higher.

As Mr. Trump again weighs retaliation against Iran, this time for the Saudi attacks, the choice he made in June is instructive in the insight it provides into how the president approaches a life-or-death decision committing American forces against an enemy.

This account of that day in June is based on interviews with White House aides, Pentagon officials, military officers, American and foreign diplomats, members of Congress and outside presidential advisers, most of whom asked not to be identified describing private conversations.

That day clearly stays with Mr. Trump, who has ruminated on it over the past week.

“When I was running, everybody said, ‘Oh, he’s going to get into war, he’s going to get into war, he’s going to blow everybody up, he’s going to get into war,’” he told reporters on Friday. “Well, the easiest thing I can do — in fact, I could do it while you’re here — would say, ‘Go ahead, fellas, go do it.’ And that would be a very bad day for Iran.”

But as eager as he is to fight with 280 characters on Twitter, Mr. Trump has proved profoundly reluctant to fight with live ammunition on a real battlefield. “For all of those that say, ‘Oh, they should do it, it shows weakness,’” he said, “actually, in my opinion, it shows strength.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156836193_c785c69f-6314-43e8-9788-4290249f1d1b-articleLarge Standoffs With Iran Test Trump’s Resolve to Use Military Force United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Pompeo, Mike Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Graham, Lindsey Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Carlson, Tucker Bolton, John R

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in June in Tehran inspecting debris purported to be fragments of a downed American drone.CreditMeghdad Madadi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Trump came to office fixated on Iran as an enemy to be confronted. In abandoning the nuclear agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama in 2015 on the grounds that it was a bad deal, Mr. Trump set himself on a collision course with Tehran that was bound to test him.

Strained by the “maximum pressure” sanctions that Mr. Trump has imposed, Iran this summer acted out aggressively, targeting oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and vowing to reconstitute its nuclear program. The overnight downing of the Global Hawk drone in June seemed to climax a campaign of escalation that would draw in Mr. Trump.

Hours after the drone was destroyed, the president’s team met for breakfast at 7 a.m. in the office of John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were joined by two acting secretaries of defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, who had just announced his resignation and was days away from departing, and Mark T. Esper, his designated replacement.

At the meeting, several strike options were discussed. The Pentagon’s preferred plan was to attack one of the missile-laden Iranian boats that the United States had been tracking in the Gulf of Oman. American forces would warn the Iranians to evacuate the vessel, videotape them doing so, then sink the boat with a bomb or missile strike.

The end result would be zero casualties, which Mr. Shanahan and General Dunford argued would be a proportional response to the downing of a $130 million drone that had itself resulted in no loss of life.

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo were concerned that would not be decisive enough and pushed for strikes on Iranian soil. Mr. Bolton argued for what was described as a “comprehensive list” of targets, but only so many could be hit if the operation was to be carried out quickly, so the officials settled on three Iranian missile batteries and radars.

The same advisers reconvened along with more officials at 11 a.m. in the Situation Room to brief the president. The meeting lasted for about an hour as various possibilities were discussed.

Four officials said that striking the three targets would result in about 150 casualties, a number derived from Iranian manning doctrine for these particular facilities, including operators, maintenance personnel and security guards.

How much Mr. Trump was paying attention to that part of the briefing or what he absorbed was not clear in hindsight to some officials. But they said the casualty estimates were included as part of the target package presented to the president.

The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in August. The ship was prepared to launch an attack against Iran on June 20, but the final order never came.CreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

The national security team emerged from that meeting convinced it had a decision from Mr. Trump to strike, and soon the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and other ships and aircraft were on the move, preparing for an attack around 9 p.m. Washington time, or just before dawn in the region.

Still, there continued to be pushback from Pentagon civilians and General Dunford. They argued that killing as many as 150 Iranians did not equate to the shooting down of a drone and could prompt a counterstrike by Iran that would escalate into a broader confrontation.

Moreover, General Dunford argued that a sustained conflict in the Middle East would require the United States to divert more forces to the region, including from the Pacific theater, which would benefit China.

Mr. Trump seemed to be nursing doubts of his own, partly because of reports that the Iranian commander who shot down the drone had acted on his own, not on specific orders of the national government. Just after the Situation Room meeting, he sat down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, who was visiting, and floated that scenario.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office shortly after noon. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Mr. Bolton argued that it mattered little if Tehran gave the order or gave its commanders so much authority that they could take such action on their own. But it clearly did matter to Mr. Trump.

It also mattered that he had been so critical of past presidents for being too quick to pull the trigger. In the days leading up to this moment, he had talked with Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, who reminded him that he had come to office to get out of endless wars, not start a new one.

If he allowed himself to be pulled into a new conflict by the same people who got the United States into Iraq, then Mr. Trump could forget about his chances for re-election, Mr. Carlson told him.

And beyond his own electoral prospects, Mr. Trump bristled at the idea of a wider war. “People underestimate how much emotionally he does not like the idea of Americans dying needlessly,” said Christopher Ruddy, a friend and the chief executive of Newsmax.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 20 after leaving a closed door meeting about Iran. Democrats suggested caution, warning that a military strike could destabilize the region and play into Iran’s hands.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

At 3 p.m., Mr. Trump convened a dozen congressional leaders from both parties in the Situation Room, a rare act of inclusion. Mr. Pence, Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Shanahan, Mr. Esper, Mr. Bolton and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, joined the meeting.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was late because she was meeting with Mr. Trudeau, and the group debated waiting for her, but with so much history of animosity between Democrats and Republicans, there was no small talk and the room fell into an awkward silence. Finally, they decided to go ahead with the discussion.

Mr. Trump rambled on about how bad Mr. Obama’s deal had been and insisted over and over again — one lawmaker estimated a dozen times — that his pressure campaign would force Iran to the bargaining table.

He seemed less certain about what to do in response to the drone shootdown. Democrats suggested caution, warning that a military strike could destabilize the region and play into Iran’s hands.

Mr. Trump, for once, did not reject their views. Indeed, he seemed concerned about an overreaction. “At the end of the day, the impression I got was that the president was genuinely worried about stumbling into a broader conflict,” said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“I think it was good that the president asked us over,” he added. “And he was inclusive. He didn’t just bring us over there to bark at us for an hour and a half. He listened. Which, frankly, surprised me a little bit.”

Mr. Trump disclosed no decision to the lawmakers, but forces were already in motion, and more than 10,000 sailors and airmen were on the move. The plan called for Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fired from at least two Navy ships in the region. Carrier-based fighter/attack planes would not participate in the original strike, but would be launched into the air above the North Arabian Sea to counter any attempt by the Iranians to retaliate.

Mr. Trump still had time to rethink it — the military calculated the “go/no go” point at which the first stage of the operation would begin and it would no longer be possible to call off.

Tehran in June. Mr. Trump bristled at the idea of getting the United States into a new war.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

As the hour approached, Mr. Trump was given the estimate that 150 Iranians would be killed in the attack. The president later said publicly that it came when he asked his generals, but in fact, multiple officials said the estimate was delivered to him by a White House lawyer who got it from a Pentagon lawyer.

Pentagon lawyers typically prepare casualty estimates drawn from manuals listing how many personnel are believed to work at certain foreign facilities. One official said that White House lawyers demanded an estimate because they had to fill out a memo justifying military action under the president’s Article II powers as commander in chief.

Advocates of the strike angrily assumed the lawyers had pulled an end-run around the process and complained that the estimate was just a formula that did not account for the fact that the attack would be conducted at night when few if any personnel would be on duty.

Why Mr. Trump suddenly latched onto the estimate at this point rather than when casualties were discussed at the earlier meeting remains a mystery to many officials. Some assumed he was influenced by Mr. Carlson or other allies that his re-election would be jeopardized and was looking for cover.

But when the decision came, Mr. Pence, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton were all out of the White House, and the president did not call them for input. Instead, he told the Pentagon to call off the attack.

General Dunford called Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of the Central Command in Tampa, Fla., with new orders from the White House: The strike was off. The Tomahawk missiles stood down. Attack planes were called back.

In the command center of the Abraham Lincoln, Rear Adm. Michael E. Boyle, the commander of the carrier strike group, had been waiting for the final order to attack. “All the systems were on, all the lights were green, we were waiting for the order,” Admiral Boyle recalled. “And the order didn’t come.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, on June 20 in the Oval Office. They pushed for strikes on Iran.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

When the president’s top advisers returned to the White House and learned what happened, they were flabbergasted. Mr. Pompeo was described as incredulous, Mr. Bolton as aggravated.

The advisers were stunned all over again the next morning when Mr. Trump took to Twitter to reveal that he had been “cocked and loaded” for a strike and then called it off. There was no need to publicly disclose how close they had come to acting, they thought; by doing so, the president risked making it look like he had blinked.

The moment was all too reminiscent to them of Mr. Obama, who had warned Syria that using chemical weapons on civilians during its civil war would cross a “red line” prompting American action, only to back off the threat when Damascus ignored him in 2013. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Obama was mindful of getting the United States into another Middle East war, but the failure to follow through did lasting damage to his reputation.

Also like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump would find another way that had its own merits. Mr. Obama reached a deal with Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, which he argued did far more to save lives than a momentary strike would have, even though Syria later cheated. In Mr. Trump’s case, he launched a cyberstrike that did considerable damage to Iran’s ability of targeting shipping with no loss of life.

But now allies like Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and advisers like Mr. Bolton, who left the White House this month after deep disagreements with Mr. Trump, including over the aborted strike, argue that marching up to the line of a military operation and then calling it off only emboldened Iran.

“The president’s repeated failure to militarily respond to Iranian actions has been a serious mistake,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former C.I.A. official at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group dedicated to countering Iran’s influence. “To believe the reverse requires a certain deep dive into new-age, oh-so-Western psychology, where crippling caution becomes a virtue.”

Some said Mr. Trump has only himself to blame. “Trump is in a box of his own making,” said Philip Gordon, who was a Middle East adviser to Mr. Obama. “He has put in place policies — ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran — guaranteed to provoke an aggressive Iranian response, but he’s not prepared to respond aggressively in turn, and the Iranians know it.”

“So now he has to either back down or go down that slippery military slope,” he added, “a terrible dilemma he should have considered before he went down this road in the first place.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

An Abrupt Move That Stunned Aides: Inside Trump’s Aborted Attack on Iran

WASHINGTON — By the time President Trump met with congressional leaders on the afternoon of June 20, he had already decided to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone. But for once, he kept his cards close to the vest, soliciting advice rather than doing all of the talking.

“Why don’t you go after the launch sites?” a Republican lawmaker asked.

“Well,” Mr. Trump replied with a hint, “I think you’ll like the decision.”

But barely three hours later, Mr. Trump had changed his mind. Without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser, he reversed himself and, with ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies, told the Pentagon to call off the airstrikes with only 10 minutes to go. When Vice President Mike Pence and other officials returned to the White House for what they expected would be a long night of monitoring a military operation, they were stunned to learn the attack was off.

That about-face, so typically impulsive, instinctive and removed from any process, proved a decision point for a president who has often threatened to “totally destroy” enemies but at the same time has promised to extricate the United States from Middle East wars. It revealed a commander in chief more cautious than critics have assumed, yet underscored the limited options in a confrontation he had set in motion.

Three months later, some of Mr. Trump’s own allies fear the failure to follow through was taken by Iran as a sign of weakness, emboldening it to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia this month. Mr. Trump argues his decision was an expression of long-overdue restraint by a nation that has wasted too many lives and dollars overseas.

But he finds himself back where he was in June, wrestling with the consequences of using force and the consequences of avoiding it, except now Iran is accused of an even more brazen provocation, and the stakes seem even higher.

As Mr. Trump again weighs retaliation against Iran, this time for the Saudi attacks, the choice he made in June is instructive in the insight it provides into how the president approaches a life-or-death decision committing American forces against an enemy.

This account of that day in June is based on interviews with White House aides, Pentagon officials, military officers, American and foreign diplomats, members of Congress and outside presidential advisers, most of whom asked not to be identified describing private conversations.

That day clearly stays with Mr. Trump, who has ruminated on it over the past week.

“When I was running, everybody said, ‘Oh, he’s going to get into war, he’s going to get into war, he’s going to blow everybody up, he’s going to get into war,’” he told reporters on Friday. “Well, the easiest thing I can do — in fact, I could do it while you’re here — would say, ‘Go ahead, fellas, go do it.’ And that would be a very bad day for Iran.”

But as eager as he is to fight with 280 characters on Twitter, Mr. Trump has proved profoundly reluctant to fight with live ammunition on a real battlefield. “For all of those that say, ‘Oh, they should do it, it shows weakness,’” he said, “actually, in my opinion, it shows strength.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156836193_c785c69f-6314-43e8-9788-4290249f1d1b-articleLarge An Abrupt Move That Stunned Aides: Inside Trump’s Aborted Attack on Iran United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Shanahan, Patrick M (1962- ) Pompeo, Mike Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Graham, Lindsey Dunford, Joseph F Jr Defense Department Defense and Military Forces Carlson, Tucker Bolton, John R

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in June in Tehran inspecting debris purported to be fragments of a downed American drone.CreditMeghdad Madadi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Trump came to office fixated on Iran as an enemy to be confronted. In abandoning the nuclear agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama in 2015 on the grounds that it was a bad deal, Mr. Trump set himself on a collision course with Tehran that was bound to test him.

Strained by the “maximum pressure” sanctions that Mr. Trump has imposed, Iran this summer acted out aggressively, targeting oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and vowing to reconstitute its nuclear program. The overnight downing of the Global Hawk drone in June seemed to climax a campaign of escalation that would draw in Mr. Trump.

Hours after the drone was destroyed, the president’s team met for breakfast at 7 a.m. in the office of John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were joined by two acting secretaries of defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, who had just announced his resignation and was days away from departing, and Mark T. Esper, his designated replacement.

At the meeting, several strike options were discussed. The Pentagon’s preferred plan was to attack one of the missile-laden Iranian boats that the United States had been tracking in the Gulf of Oman. American forces would warn the Iranians to evacuate the vessel, videotape them doing so, then sink the boat with a bomb or missile strike.

The end result would be zero casualties, which Mr. Shanahan and General Dunford argued would be a proportional response to the downing of a $130 million drone that had itself resulted in no loss of life.

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo were concerned that would not be decisive enough and pushed for strikes on Iranian soil. Mr. Bolton argued for what was described as a “comprehensive list” of targets, but only so many could be hit if the operation was to be carried out quickly, so the officials settled on three Iranian missile batteries and radars.

The same advisers reconvened along with more officials at 11 a.m. in the Situation Room to brief the president. The meeting lasted for about an hour as various possibilities were discussed.

Four officials said that striking the three targets would result in about 150 casualties, a number derived from Iranian manning doctrine for these particular facilities, including operators, maintenance personnel and security guards.

How much Mr. Trump was paying attention to that part of the briefing or what he absorbed was not clear in hindsight to some officials. But they said the casualty estimates were included as part of the target package presented to the president.

The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in August. The ship was prepared to launch an attack against Iran on June 20, but the final order never came.CreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

The national security team emerged from that meeting convinced it had a decision from Mr. Trump to strike, and soon the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and other ships and aircraft were on the move, preparing for an attack around 9 p.m. Washington time, or just before dawn in the region.

Still, there continued to be pushback from Pentagon civilians and General Dunford. They argued that killing as many as 150 Iranians did not equate to the shooting down of a drone and could prompt a counterstrike by Iran that would escalate into a broader confrontation.

Moreover, General Dunford argued that a sustained conflict in the Middle East would require the United States to divert more forces to the region, including from the Pacific theater, which would benefit China.

Mr. Trump seemed to be nursing doubts of his own, partly because of reports that the Iranian commander who shot down the drone had acted on his own, not on specific orders of the national government. Just after the Situation Room meeting, he sat down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, who was visiting, and floated that scenario.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office shortly after noon. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Mr. Bolton argued that it mattered little if Tehran gave the order or gave its commanders so much authority that they could take such action on their own. But it clearly did matter to Mr. Trump.

It also mattered that he had been so critical of past presidents for being too quick to pull the trigger. In the days leading up to this moment, he had talked with Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, who reminded him that he had come to office to get out of endless wars, not start a new one.

If he allowed himself to be pulled into a new conflict by the same people who got the United States into Iraq, then Mr. Trump could forget about his chances for re-election, Mr. Carlson told him.

And beyond his own electoral prospects, Mr. Trump bristled at the idea of a wider war. “People underestimate how much emotionally he does not like the idea of Americans dying needlessly,” said Christopher Ruddy, a friend and the chief executive of Newsmax.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 20 after leaving a closed door meeting about Iran. Democrats suggested caution, warning that a military strike could destabilize the region and play into Iran’s hands.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

At 3 p.m., Mr. Trump convened a dozen congressional leaders from both parties in the Situation Room, a rare act of inclusion. Mr. Pence, Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Shanahan, Mr. Esper, Mr. Bolton and Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, joined the meeting.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was late because she was meeting with Mr. Trudeau, and the group debated waiting for her, but with so much history of animosity between Democrats and Republicans, there was no small talk and the room fell into an awkward silence. Finally, they decided to go ahead with the discussion.

Mr. Trump rambled on about how bad Mr. Obama’s deal had been and insisted over and over again — one lawmaker estimated a dozen times — that his pressure campaign would force Iran to the bargaining table.

He seemed less certain about what to do in response to the drone shootdown. Democrats suggested caution, warning that a military strike could destabilize the region and play into Iran’s hands.

Mr. Trump, for once, did not reject their views. Indeed, he seemed concerned about an overreaction. “At the end of the day, the impression I got was that the president was genuinely worried about stumbling into a broader conflict,” said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“I think it was good that the president asked us over,” he added. “And he was inclusive. He didn’t just bring us over there to bark at us for an hour and a half. He listened. Which, frankly, surprised me a little bit.”

Mr. Trump disclosed no decision to the lawmakers, but forces were already in motion, and more than 10,000 sailors and airmen were on the move. The plan called for Tomahawk cruise missiles to be fired from at least two Navy ships in the region. Carrier-based fighter/attack planes would not participate in the original strike, but would be launched into the air above the North Arabian Sea to counter any attempt by the Iranians to retaliate.

Mr. Trump still had time to rethink it — the military calculated the “go/no go” point at which the first stage of the operation would begin and it would no longer be possible to call off.

Tehran in June. Mr. Trump bristled at the idea of getting the United States into a new war.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

As the hour approached, Mr. Trump was given the estimate that 150 Iranians would be killed in the attack. The president later said publicly that it came when he asked his generals, but in fact, multiple officials said the estimate was delivered to him by a White House lawyer who got it from a Pentagon lawyer.

Pentagon lawyers typically prepare casualty estimates drawn from manuals listing how many personnel are believed to work at certain foreign facilities. One official said that White House lawyers demanded an estimate because they had to fill out a memo justifying military action under the president’s Article II powers as commander in chief.

Advocates of the strike angrily assumed the lawyers had pulled an end-run around the process and complained that the estimate was just a formula that did not account for the fact that the attack would be conducted at night when few if any personnel would be on duty.

Why Mr. Trump suddenly latched onto the estimate at this point rather than when casualties were discussed at the earlier meeting remains a mystery to many officials. Some assumed he was influenced by Mr. Carlson or other allies that his re-election would be jeopardized and was looking for cover.

But when the decision came, Mr. Pence, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton were all out of the White House, and the president did not call them for input. Instead, he told the Pentagon to call off the attack.

General Dunford called Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of the Central Command in Tampa, Fla., with new orders from the White House: The strike was off. The Tomahawk missiles stood down. Attack planes were called back.

In the command center of the Abraham Lincoln, Rear Adm. Michael E. Boyle, the commander of the carrier strike group, had been waiting for the final order to attack. “All the systems were on, all the lights were green, we were waiting for the order,” Admiral Boyle recalled. “And the order didn’t come.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, on June 20 in the Oval Office. They pushed for strikes on Iran.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

When the president’s top advisers returned to the White House and learned what happened, they were flabbergasted. Mr. Pompeo was described as incredulous, Mr. Bolton as aggravated.

The advisers were stunned all over again the next morning when Mr. Trump took to Twitter to reveal that he had been “cocked and loaded” for a strike and then called it off. There was no need to publicly disclose how close they had come to acting, they thought; by doing so, the president risked making it look like he had blinked.

The moment was all too reminiscent to them of Mr. Obama, who had warned Syria that using chemical weapons on civilians during its civil war would cross a “red line” prompting American action, only to back off the threat when Damascus ignored him in 2013. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Obama was mindful of getting the United States into another Middle East war, but the failure to follow through did lasting damage to his reputation.

Also like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump would find another way that had its own merits. Mr. Obama reached a deal with Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, which he argued did far more to save lives than a momentary strike would have, even though Syria later cheated. In Mr. Trump’s case, he launched a cyberstrike that did considerable damage to Iran’s ability of targeting shipping with no loss of life.

But now allies like Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and advisers like Mr. Bolton, who left the White House this month after deep disagreements with Mr. Trump, including over the aborted strike, argue that marching up to the line of a military operation and then calling it off only emboldened Iran.

“The president’s repeated failure to militarily respond to Iranian actions has been a serious mistake,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former C.I.A. official at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group dedicated to countering Iran’s influence. “To believe the reverse requires a certain deep dive into new-age, oh-so-Western psychology, where crippling caution becomes a virtue.”

Some said Mr. Trump has only himself to blame. “Trump is in a box of his own making,” said Philip Gordon, who was a Middle East adviser to Mr. Obama. “He has put in place policies — ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran — guaranteed to provoke an aggressive Iranian response, but he’s not prepared to respond aggressively in turn, and the Iranians know it.”

“So now he has to either back down or go down that slippery military slope,” he added, “a terrible dilemma he should have considered before he went down this road in the first place.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Iran, Adding to Tensions

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Monday that he was imposing new sanctions on Iran, stepping up a policy of pressuring the nation’s leaders and further squeezing the Iranian economy in retaliation for what the United States says are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.

The move came on top of actions taken by the administration this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy.

The new sanctions are aimed at preventing some top Iranian officials from using the international banking system or any financial vehicles set up by European nations or other countries. But the Iranian officials most likely do not keep substantial assets in international banks, if any at all, or use those institutions for transactions, and any additional pressure from the new sanctions is likely to be minimal.

The largely symbolic nature of this round of sanctions indicates that the Trump administration is running low on arrows in its economic quiver. It now finds itself in a waiting game, as it watches for whether the latest clampdown on oil exports, which was announced in late April, will force the Iranian leaders to surrender to American demands in exchange for economic relief.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said the new sanctions order would bar Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, and his office from access to the international financial system. The Treasury Department said it was also imposing sanctions on eight Iranian military commanders, including the head of a unit that the Americans say was responsible for shooting down an American drone last Thursday.

Mr. Trump acted at a time of rising concerns over Iran. Those have been prompted in part by declarations from Tehran that it is amassing more nuclear fuel, the latest evidence that Mr. Trump’s withdrawal last year from a nuclear containment deal is pushing Iranian leaders to violate terms they had been abiding by until now.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Mr. Trump said as he sat at his desk in the Oval Office preparing to sign an executive order. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

While he warned on Monday that his restraint has limits, Mr. Trump has signaled that he prefers tightening sanctions to launching an immediate military strike to try to alter Iran’s behavior and force political change in Tehran.

But critics said the new sanctions would have little substantive effect and could further inflame tensions.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156948135_f3045d89-f378-4add-8295-a7a51cd9d9ee-articleLarge Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Iran, Adding to Tensions Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Persian Gulf Khamenei, Ali Iran Gulf of Oman Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense Bolton, John R

Iranians at the old grand bazaar on Monday. The inflation rate in Iran has risen to about 50 percent.CreditAbedin Taherkenareh/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Symbolic politics at its worst,” said Robert Malley, the president and chief executive of the International Crisis Group and a former senior Obama administration official on the Middle East. “At every level it is illogical, counterproductive or useless.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration would add Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and its top negotiator on the nuclear deal, to the sanctions list this week. (In his announcement about the sanctions on the supreme leader, Mr. Trump misspoke and said “Ayatollah Khomeini,” who died in 1989, rather than “Khamenei.”)

The inflation rate in Iran has risen to about 50 percent and many Iranians are dissatisfied with the economy, but authoritarian leaders have historically shown they can withstand stress from sanctions for many years. Some Iranian citizens also blame the United States government for the devastation of their economy, and they point to the shortage of critical medicine, even though Trump administration officials say they do not intend to limit humanitarian aid.

Iranian officials could choose to carry out nonfatal attacks on United States or international interests, as they did with the downing of the drone, to try to get the Trump administration to ease sanctions. Iran’s naval commander, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, said on Monday that the military was capable of shooting down other drones that violate Iranian airspace.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that he was willing to negotiate with Iran — “I think Iran, potentially, has a phenomenal future” — but insisted Iranian leaders would have to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons, as well as halt uranium enrichment, “fueling of foreign conflicts” and “belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.”

Mr. Trump always emphasizes the need to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, while his hawkish top foreign policy aides, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, say Iran must also make wholesale changes to its policies in the Middle East.

International nuclear experts say Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program and has been adhering to the terms of a landmark nuclear agreement that it reached in 2015 with world powers.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions. Iran said last week it would soon breach some limits on low-grade uranium in the deal, a type of fissile material used in civilian reactors. Iran would still be far from being able to make a nuclear weapon; its announcement appeared intended to pressure European nations to find ways to resume trade with Iran in order to alleviate the impact of American sanctions.

Mr. Trump’s rollout of sanctions and the effort to end all oil exports, along with an insistence by Mr. Pompeo that Tehran meet 12 expansive demands mostly unrelated to the nuclear program, “set a spark to the escalatory cycle we’re seeing today,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East expert at RAND Corporation, a research group in California.

“The administration argued maximum pressure would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but instead it brought provocative Iranian actions that are not likely to end without Iran getting something concrete on sanctions relief,” she said. “Talk about wanting to talk is not likely to be enough.”

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ aerospace division, speaking to the news media next to debris from a downed American drone on Friday.CreditMeghdad Madadi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China and Russia, who also signed the nuclear deal, have joined European nations in opposing the sanctions. European officials are trying to persuade Iran to stay in the agreement and are expected to speak with Mr. Trump about his Iran policy at the Group of 20 summit meeting this week in Japan.

Mr. Trump and his top foreign policy aides say further squeezing Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the terms of the 2015 deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and opposed by many Republicans, Israel and Arab nations in the Persian Gulf.

Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, said on Twitter that the “U.S.’s claim that it wants negotiations without preconditions while it increases sanctions and pressure is not acceptable.”

If the United States wants more than the 2015 nuclear deal, he said, “it must offer us more than the deal with international guarantees.”

On Monday afternoon, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told reporters that he had been barred from a closed-door meeting of the Security Council called by the United States. He also said there was no way Iran and the United States could have a dialogue right now.

The imposition of more sanctions could provoke further actions by Iran to add to the crisis that has unfolded since early May in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, analysts say.

American officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility.

The downing of the drone prompted Mr. Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites last Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate, and instead opted for a cyberattack.

On Monday, Mr. Pompeo met at a palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with King Salman, then had lunch with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the administration has supported despite his suspected role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, and in overseeing an air war that has killed thousands of civilians in Yemen. The State Department said Mr. Pompeo talked with the king and the prince about “heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security to promote freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Mr. Pompeo then flew to Abu Dhabi to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed over dinner. Mr. Pompeo told the prince that his nation should contribute money and military resources to a maritime security program for ships around the Strait of Hormuz. The Americans are calling it the Sentinel program, and Mr. Pompeo said it was supposed to involve 20 nations in addition to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

“The president is keen that the United States doesn’t bear the cost of this,” Mr. Pompeo told the prince.

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Trump Imposes New Economic Sanctions on Iran, Adding to Tensions

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Monday that he was imposing new sanctions on Iran, stepping up a policy of pressuring the nation’s leaders and further squeezing the Iranian economy in retaliation for what the United States says are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.

The move came on top of sanctions imposed by the administration this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy.

The new sanctions are aimed at preventing some top Iranian officials from using the international banking system or any financial vehicles set up by European nations or other countries. But the Iranian officials most likely do not keep substantial assets in international banks, if any at all, or use those institutions for transactions, and any additional pressure from the new sanctions is likely to be minimal.

The largely symbolic nature of this round of sanctions indicates that the Trump administration is running low on arrows in its economic quiver. It now finds itself in a waiting game, as it watches for whether the latest clampdown on oil exports, which was announced in late April, will force the Iranian leaders to surrender to American demands in exchange for economic relief.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said the new sanctions order would bar Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, and his office from access to the international financial system. The Treasury Department said it was also imposing sanctions on eight Iranian military commanders, including the head of a unit that the Americans say was responsible for shooting down an American drone last Thursday.

Mr. Trump acted at a time of rising concerns over Iran. Those have been prompted in part by declarations from Tehran that it is amassing more nuclear fuel, the latest evidence that Mr. Trump’s withdrawal last year from a nuclear containment deal is pushing Iranian leaders to violate terms they had been abiding by until now.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Mr. Trump said as he sat at his desk in the Oval Office preparing to sign an executive order. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

While he warned on Monday that his restraint has limits, Mr. Trump has signaled that he prefers tightening sanctions to launching an immediate military strike to try to alter Iran’s behavior and force political change in Tehran.

But critics said the new sanctions would have little substantive effect and could further inflame tensions.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156948135_f3045d89-f378-4add-8295-a7a51cd9d9ee-articleLarge Trump Imposes New Economic Sanctions on Iran, Adding to Tensions Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Persian Gulf Khamenei, Ali Iran Gulf of Oman Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense Bolton, John R

Iranians at the old grand bazaar on Monday. The inflation rate in Iran has risen to about 50 percent.CreditAbedin Taherkenareh/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Symbolic politics at its worst,” said Robert Malley, the president and chief executive of the International Crisis Group and a former senior Obama administration official on the Middle East. “At every level it is illogical, counterproductive or useless.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration would add Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and its top negotiator on the nuclear deal, to the sanctions list this week.

The inflation rate in Iran has risen to about 50 percent and many Iranians are dissatisfied with the economy, but authoritarian leaders have historically shown they can withstand stress from sanctions for many years. Some Iranian citizens also blame the United States government for the devastation of their economy, and they point to the shortage of critical medicine, even though Trump administration officials say they do not intend to limit humanitarian aid.

Iranian officials could choose to carry out nonfatal attacks on United States or international interests, as they did with the downing of the drone, to try to get the Trump administration to ease sanctions. Iran’s naval commander, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, said on Monday that the military was capable of shooting down other drones that violate Iranian airspace.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that he was willing to negotiate with Iran — “I think Iran, potentially, has a phenomenal future” — but insisted Iranian leaders would have to end their pursuit of nuclear weapons, as well as halt uranium enrichment, “fueling of foreign conflicts” and “belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.”

Mr. Trump always emphasizes the need to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, while his hawkish top foreign policy aides, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, say Iran must also make wholesale changes to its policies in the Middle East.

International nuclear experts say Iran does not have an active nuclear weapons program and has been adhering to the terms of a landmark nuclear agreement that it reached in 2015 with world powers.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the deal in May 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions. Iran said last week it would soon breach some limits on low-grade uranium in the deal, a type of fissile material used in civilian reactors. Iran would still be far from being able to make a nuclear weapon; its announcement appeared intended to pressure European nations to find ways to resume trade with Iran in order to alleviate the impact of American sanctions.

Mr. Trump’s rollout of sanctions and the effort to end all oil exports, along with an insistence by Mr. Pompeo that Tehran meet 12 expansive demands mostly unrelated to the nuclear program, “set a spark to the escalatory cycle we’re seeing today,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East expert at RAND Corporation, a research group in California.

“The administration argued maximum pressure would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but instead it brought provocative Iranian actions that are not likely to end without Iran getting something concrete on sanctions relief,” she said. “Talk about wanting to talk is not likely to be enough.”

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ aerospace division, speaking to the news media next to debris from a downed American drone on Friday.CreditMeghdad Madadi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China and Russia, who also signed the nuclear deal, have joined European nations in opposing the sanctions. European officials are trying to persuade Iran to stay in the agreement and are expected to speak with Mr. Trump about his Iran policy at the Group of 20 summit meeting this week in Japan.

Mr. Trump and his top foreign policy aides say further squeezing Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the terms of the 2015 deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and opposed by many Republicans, Israel and Arab nations in the Persian Gulf.

Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, said on Twitter that the “U.S.’s claim that it wants negotiations without preconditions while it increases sanctions and pressure is not acceptable.”

If the United States wants more than the 2015 nuclear deal, he said, “it must offer us more than the deal with international guarantees.”

On Monday afternoon, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told reporters that he had been barred from a closed-door meeting of the Security Council called by the United States. He also said there was no way Iran and the United States could have a dialogue right now.

The imposition of more sanctions could provoke further actions by Iran to add to the crisis that has unfolded since early May in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, analysts say.

American officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility.

The downing of the drone prompted Mr. Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites last Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate, and instead opted for a cyberattack.

On Monday, Mr. Pompeo met at a palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with King Salman, then had lunch with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the administration has supported despite his suspected role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, and in overseeing an air war that has killed thousands of civilians in Yemen. The State Department said Mr. Pompeo talked with the king and the prince about “heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security to promote freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Mr. Pompeo then flew to Abu Dhabi to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed over dinner. Mr. Pompeo told the prince that his nation should contribute money and military resources to a maritime security program for ships around the Strait of Hormuz. The Americans are calling it the Sentinel program, and Mr. Pompeo said it was supposed to involve 20 nations in addition to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

“The president is keen that the United States doesn’t bear the cost of this,” Mr. Pompeo told the prince.

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Trump Imposes New Economic Sanctions on Iran

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-sanctions-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Imposes New Economic Sanctions on Iran Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Persian Gulf Khamenei, Ali Iran Gulf of Oman Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Monday that he is imposing new sanctions on Iran, after saying for days that he preferred tightening the pressure on a crippled Iranian economy to launching an immediate military strike in retaliation for what American officials have said are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Mr. Trump said as he sat at his desk in the Oval Office preparing to sign an executive order. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

He added that the order will bar Iranian leaders from access to financial instruments. The administration did not immediately elaborate.

The Trump administration already moved this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and the new sanctions are expected to be aimed at shutting down additional sources of income with the goal of forcing political change in Tehran.

Mr. Trump and his top foreign policy aides are gambling that continuing the squeeze on Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the landmark agreement that major world powers forged with Iran in 2015 — and that Mr. Trump withdrew from last year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with the rulers of Saudi Arabia on a last-minute trip on Monday, also insists Iran must curb its regional military activity and end support for partner Arab militias.

The imposition of more sanctions could provoke further actions by Iran to add to the crisis that has unfolded since early May in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, analysts say.

American officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to show its capabilities and increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility. Last week, the Iranian military shot down an American drone, though the two nations debate whether the drone was in Iranian territory or over international waters.

The downing of the drone prompted Mr. Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites last Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate, and instead opted to launch a cyber attack. The most prominent Iran hawks in the administration, Mr. Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, had pushed for the missile strikes.

Mr. Pompeo also advocated in the White House Situation Room on Thursday for continuing sanctions and seeing whether Iran would capitulate to demands as the policy of cutting off all oil revenues, announced in late April, takes full effect.

Iranian leaders say the Trump administration is waging economic warfare on their nation, and analysts say the sanctions campaign, which has been done with no substantial diplomatic outreach, strengthens the standing of hard-line officials in Tehran who argue for taking retaliatory measures. The Trump administration has imposed more than 1,000 specific sanctions on Iran since the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in May 2018, according to the State Department.

The rollout of sanctions and attempt to end all oil exports, along with an insistence by Mr. Pompeo that Tehran meet 12 expansive demands mostly unrelated to the nuclear program, “set a spark to the escalatory cycle we’re seeing today,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East expert at RAND Corporation, a research group in California.

“The administration argued maximum pressure would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but instead it brought provocative Iranian actions that are not likely to end without Iran getting something concrete on sanctions relief,” she said. “Talk about wanting to talk is not likely to be enough.”

Some advocates of a hard-line approach to Iran have said Mr. Trump should double down on sanctions and not be baited into doing a military strike, which could backfire by generating support among ordinary Iranians for the anti-American policies of officials in Tehran, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

“Now is not the time for military action,” Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said on Twitter on Saturday. “Intensify the economic and political pressure. Make clear supreme leader is supreme obstacle to a better future for Iranians.”

On Monday, Mr. Pompeo met at a palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with King Salman, then had lunch with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the administration has supported despite his suspected role in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and in overseeing an air war that has killed civilians in Yemen. Mr. Pompeo said on Twitter that he had talked with the king about “heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Saudi officials said an attack by a drone operated by the Houthi rebels of Yemen killed at least one person and injured seven others on Sunday.

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Trump Expected to Announce New Economic Sanctions on Iran

Westlake Legal Group 24DC-SANCTIONS-facebookJumbo Trump Expected to Announce New Economic Sanctions on Iran Trump, Donald J Pompeo, Mike Persian Gulf Khamenei, Ali Iran Gulf of Oman Embargoes and Sanctions Cyberwarfare and Defense Bolton, John R

WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to announce on Monday that he is imposing new sanctions on Iran, after saying for days that he preferred tightening the pressure on a crippled Iranian economy to launching an immediate military strike in retaliation for what American officials have said are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.

The Trump administration already moved this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and the new sanctions are expected to be aimed at shutting down additional sources of income with the goal of forcing political change in Tehran.

Mr. Trump and his top foreign policy aides are gambling that continuing the squeeze on Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the landmark agreement that major world powers forged with Iran in 2015 — and that Mr. Trump withdrew from last year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with the rulers of Saudi Arabia on a last-minute trip on Monday, also insists Iran must curb its regional military activity and end support for partner Arab militias.

The imposition of more sanctions could provoke further actions by Iran to add to the crisis that has unfolded since early May in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, analysts say.

American officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to show its capabilities and increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility. Last week, the Iranian military shot down an American drone, though the two nations debate whether the drone was in Iranian territory or over international waters.

The downing of the drone prompted Mr. Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites last Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate, and instead opted to launch a cyber attack. The most prominent Iran hawks in the administration, Mr. Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, had pushed for the missile strikes.

Mr. Pompeo also advocated in the White House Situation Room on Thursday for continuing sanctions and seeing whether Iran would capitulate to demands as the policy of cutting off all oil revenues, announced in late April, takes full effect.

Iranian leaders say the Trump administration is waging economic warfare on their nation, and analysts say the sanctions campaign, which has been done with no substantial diplomatic outreach, strengthens the standing of hard-line officials in Tehran who argue for taking retaliatory measures. The Trump administration has imposed more than 1,000 specific sanctions on Iran since the withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in May 2018, according to the State Department.

The rollout of sanctions and attempt to end all oil exports, along with an insistence by Mr. Pompeo that Tehran meet 12 expansive demands mostly unrelated to the nuclear program, “set a spark to the escalatory cycle we’re seeing today,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, a Middle East expert at RAND Corporation, a research group in California.

“The administration argued maximum pressure would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but instead it brought provocative Iranian actions that are not likely to end without Iran getting something concrete on sanctions relief,” she said. “Talk about wanting to talk is not likely to be enough.”

Some advocates of a hard-line approach to Iran have said Mr. Trump should double down on sanctions and not be baited into doing a military strike, which could backfire by generating support among ordinary Iranians for the anti-American policies of officials in Tehran, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader.

“Now is not the time for military action,” Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said on Twitter on Saturday. “Intensify the economic and political pressure. Make clear supreme leader is supreme obstacle to a better future for Iranians.”

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The Oil Market Shows It Can Take a Punch

So far, this isn’t your typical oil crisis.

Previous moments of tension in the Persian Gulf region, like Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, once caused a major kink in oil supplies, igniting spikes in prices. After all, the Gulf provides around a third of the world’s oil, and much of that crude passes through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which has recently been a target of attacks on tankers.

But this week the response in the oil markets to the tensions following Iran’s shooting down of an American drone has seemed muted — even to the surprise of some participants. Analysts say this could stem from profound changes that have occurred in oil markets in recent years.

Production in the United States has risen significantly. America has become an oil exporter, sharply reducing its purchases of oil from the Middle East, although that region remains the world’s largest source of oil overall.

Another change this time around: The world’s demand for oil is growing at a slower pace. One cause for this drop-off is that world economic growth is slowing, partly over concerns about the trade war between the two largest economies — the United States and China. But another, more permanent reason is the slow pivot away from fossil fuels as a source of energy.

Certainly, the tensions in the Gulf could escalate quickly. But oil markets have evolved, changing the calculus for risk in the region.

Oil prices have moved higher, although modestly, the last few days. The price for brent crude, the international standard, has risen about 5.8 percent since the drone was shot down, trading at about $65 a barrel Friday morning. But the recent high was about $72 a barrel in mid-May.

Oil tanker companies, worried about the safety of their crews, say they are concerned about operating in the area. With so much business coming from shipping oil out of the Persian Gulf, the companies would be very reluctant to pull out of the region entirely.

“The general area of the Strait of Hormuz represents a real and very serious risk to shipping,” Robert Macleod, chief executive of Frontline, an Oslo-based tanker company, wrote in an email. “Ships must continue to passage the area but all precautions must be put in place.”

A Frontline tankers, the Front Altair, was one of two tankers in the Gulf of Oman attacked on June 13.

Tanker charter rates have ticked up substantially over the last week, hitting about $28,000 a day for chartering the largest class of tankers. Insurance premiums for shipping in the area have also risen. If anything, though, tanker operators have been disappointed that prices have not risen even higher; in late 2018, the operators were able to charge about $50,000 a day.

“Rates have increased some, though not as much as many had thought or even hoped for,” wrote Fearnleys, an Oslo-based ship broker, in a report published on Wednesday.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 21oilcrisis-2-articleLarge The Oil Market Shows It Can Take a Punch United States Strait of Hormuz Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Persian Gulf Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iran International Trade and World Market Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman

An oil refinery in Baton Rouge, La.CreditJulie Dermansky/Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, via Associated Press

Traders may be shrugging off the threat of disruptions in the Gulf knowing that a shortage could be made up by surging supplies from the United States.

A boom in oil and natural gas production in the United States in recent years, driven mainly by shale drilling, has shaken up world oil markets and revived the United States as a petroleum power. That trend is expected to continue.

Oil production in the United States grew by an extraordinary 17 percent last year, and natural gas output was up by 12 percent. In the last decade, the United States has added roughly six million barrels of oil a day, the equivalent of the combined production of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, two stalwarts of the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Canada, too, has seen its oil output surge, up 8.5 percent last year.

The explosive growth has weakened OPEC’s hold on the oil markets and cut gasoline prices sharply around the world, as supplies from the United States make their way into circulation. Under pressure, OPEC and Russia have joined forces in coordinating production cuts, but they have not been able to restore prices to the $100-a-barrel levels of 2014.

Traders know that because OPEC and Russia are keeping oil in the ground, there are large volumes of additional oil that could be unleashed on the market.

A boom in both oil and natural gas in the United States in recent years has shaken up world oil markets and eased American dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf.CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

The oil market’s tame response so far to the threats of disruption has surprised some analysts. Others, though, point to fears about the world economy, and say that signs are emerging that growth in demand for oil, which had been strong in recent years, is sharply easing.

The research firm IHS Markit concluded recently that some major markets were experiencing an actual contraction in demand for oil, “the largest such decline since the worst of the financial crisis” of 2008.

Analysts say that if a weaker global economy continues to soften demand for oil, then relentlessly increasing supplies from the United States and elsewhere may swamp the markets.

“As long as growth held up, you could absorb all the growth of U.S. supply,” said Roger Diwan, vice president for energy at IHS Markit. “Now with weaker demand, the global supply growth is going to overwhelm global demand growth,” he added.

It is important to keep in mind that there has been no actual disruption of oil flows from the Gulf region.

But a major episode might well roil the markets. Analysts say that it would be very difficult to replace a large portion of the 21 million barrels or so of oil that flows through the Strait of Hormuz on an average day.

A major disruption would likely do the most damage to Asian economies. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, a government agency, 76 percent of the crude oil that flowed out of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz went to Asian markets like China, India and Japan.

But a cutoff of supplies would not be in the interest of any of the countries in the region, including Iran, which still exports what oil it can through the Gulf. Oil provides a vital source of revenue for many governments in the region.

The United States has shown in the past that it is willing to go to great lengths to keep the sea lanes open. In the 1980s, for instance, after dozens of ships were damaged during the conflict between Iraq and Iran, navy vessels from the United States and other countries escorted tankers through the area. This time around, the United States might seek help from other oil importing countries like China and Japan.

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Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back

WASHINGTON — President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

[For Mr. Trump, “judgment time is coming” on how to respond to Iran.]

The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward.

Asked about the plans for a strike and the decision to hold back, the White House declined to comment, as did Pentagon officials. No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article.

The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to a senior administration official who was briefed on the military planning and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential plans.

The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.

But military officials received word a short time later that the strike was off, at least temporarily.

Where Was Drone Shot Down? U.S. and Iran Dispute Location

Westlake Legal Group map-Artboard_1 Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Bandar Abbas

Iran said drone shot down here

U.S. said drone shot down here

Disputed

boundary

Persian Gulf

Iran’s territorial waters

Gulf of Oman

UNITED

ARAB

EMIRATES

Westlake Legal Group map-Artboard_2 Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Bandar Abbas

Iran said drone shot down here

U.S. said drone shot down here

Disputed

boundary

Iran’s territorial waters

Gulf of Oman

UNITED

ARAB

EMIRATES

Westlake Legal Group map-Artboard_1_copy Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Bandar Abbas

Iran said drone shot down here

U.S. said drone shot down here

Disputed

boundary

Persian Gulf

Iran’s territorial

waters

Gulf of Oman

UNITED

ARAB

EMIRATES

Westlake Legal Group map-Artboard_5 Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Bandar Abbas

Iran said drone shot down here

U.S. said drone

shot down here

Disputed

boundary

Iran’s territorial waters

UNITED

ARAB

EMIRATES

Gulf of Oman

Sources: Drone locations from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Boundaries from Marine Regions and Flanders Marine Institute.

By Weiyi Cai

The possibility of a retaliatory strike hung over Washington for much of the day. Officials in both countries traded accusations about the location of the drone when it was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile launched from the Iranian coast along the Gulf of Oman.

Mr. Trump’s national security advisers split about whether to respond militarily. Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.

Congressional leaders were briefed by administration officials in the Situation Room.

The destruction of the drone underscored the already tense relations between the two countries after Mr. Trump’s recent accusations that Iran is to blame for explosions last week that damaged oil tankers traveling through the strait, the vital waterway for much of the world’s oil. Iran has denied that accusation.

Iran’s announcement this week that it would soon breach one of the key limits it had agreed to in a 2015 pact intended to limit its nuclear program has also fueled tensions. Mr. Trump, who pulled the United States out of the 2015 pact, has vowed that he will not allow Tehran to build a nuclear weapon.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump insisted that the United States’ unmanned surveillance aircraft was flying over international waters when it was taken down by an Iranian missile.

“This drone was in international waters, clearly,” the president told reporters on Thursday afternoon at the White House as he began a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. “We have it all documented. It’s documented scientifically, not just words.”

Asked what would come next, Mr. Trump said, “Let’s see what happens.”

Iran’s government fiercely disputed the president’s characterization, insisting that the American drone had strayed into Iranian airspace. Iran released GPS coordinates that put the drone eight miles off the country’s coast, inside the 12 nautical miles from the shore that Iran claims as its territorial waters.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a letter to the Security Council that the drone ignored repeated radio warnings before it was downed. He said that Tehran “does not seek war” but “is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air.”

Congressional Democrats emerged from the president’s classified briefing in the Situation Room and urged Mr. Trump to de-escalate the situation. They called on the president to seek congressional authorization before taking any military action.

“This is a dangerous situation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We are dealing with a country that is a bad actor in the region. We have no illusions about Iran in terms of their ballistic missile transfers, about who they support in the region and the rest.”

Iran’s destruction of the drone appeared to provide a boost for officials inside the Trump administration who have long argued for a more confrontational approach to Iran, including the possibility of military actions that could punish the regime for its support of terrorism and other destabilizing behavior in the region.

Video

Westlake Legal Group e135963484684192a5094b6158274d22-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

A Times analysis of a video and images publicly released by the U.S. Defense Department indicates that an Iranian patrol boat removed an object from a tanker in the Gulf of Oman on June 13 that may have been a limpet mine.CreditCreditU.S. Dept. of Defense

But in his public appearance, Mr. Trump initially seemed to be looking for a way to avoid a potentially serious military crisis. Instead of directly accusing the leaders of Iran, Mr. Trump said someone “loose and stupid” in Iran was responsible for shooting down the drone.

The president said he suspected it was some individual in Iran who “made a big mistake,” even as Iran had taken responsibility for the strike and asserted that the high-altitude American drone was operating over Iranian air space, which American officials denied.

Mr. Trump said the episode would have been far more serious if the aircraft had been a piloted vehicle, and not a drone. It made “a big, big difference” that an American pilot was not threatened, he told reporters.

Last year, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran, over the objections of China, Russia and American allies in Europe. He has also imposed punishing economic sanctions on Iran, trying to cut off its already limited access to international trade, including oil sales.

Iran has warned of serious consequences if Europe does not find a way around those sanctions, though it has denied involvement in the attacks on tankers near the vital Strait of Hormuz. On Monday, Iran said it would soon stop abiding by a central component of the nuclear deal, the limit on how much enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile.

Both Washington and Tehran said the downing of the drone occurred at 4:05 a.m. Thursday in Iran, or 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Iran’s ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the Air Force commander for the Central Command region in the Middle East, said the attack could have endangered “innocent civilians,” even though officials at Central Command continued to assert that the drone was over international waters. He said that the closest that the drone got to the Iranian coast was 21 miles.

Late Thursday, the Defense Department released additional imagery in an email to support its case that the drone never entered Iranian airspace. But the department incorrectly called the flight path of the drone the location of the shooting down and offered little context for an image that appeared to be the drone exploding in midair.

It was the latest attempt by the Pentagon to try to prove that Iran has been the aggressor in a series of international incidents.

[What we know and don’t know about Iran shooting down an American drone.]

Iran’s foreign affairs minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in a post on Twitter that he gave what he said were precise coordinates for where the American drone was targeted.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_150219237_e81cfc5a-626f-4234-b328-cefd75888c78-articleLarge Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Yemeni fighters loyal to the Saudi-led coalition in January at the front line in Nehim, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

“At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace,” he said in a tweet that included coordinates that he said were near Kouh-e Mobarak. “We’ve retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.”

Mr. Trump’s comments on Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office reflected the longstanding tension between the president’s desire to be seen as tough on the world stage and his campaign promise to make sure that the United States did not get tangled in more foreign wars.

The president has embraced a reputation as someone who punches back when he is challenged. Only months into his tenure, Mr. Trump launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Syria after a chemical weapon attack.

But he has often talked about ending American involvement in long-running conflicts abroad, describing his “America First” agenda as having little room for being the world’s police force. In a tweet in January, he said he hoped that “Endless Wars, especially those which are fought out of judgement mistakes” would “eventually come to a glorious end!”

According to Iranian news media, a foreign minister spokesman there said that flying a drone into Iranian airspace was an “aggressive and provocative” move by the United States.

Hossein Salami, the commander in chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said crossing the country’s border was “our red line,” the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported.

“We are not going to get engaged in a war with any country, but we are fully prepared for war,” Mr. Salami said at a military ceremony in Sanandaj, Iran, according to a translation from Press TV, a state-run news outlet. “Today’s incident was a clear sign of this precise message, so we are continuing our resistance.”

Iranian news media said the drone had flown over Iranian territory unauthorized, and reported that it had been shot down in the Hormozgan Province, along the country’s southern coast on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Both the United States and Iran identified the aircraft as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, a surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman.

“This was a show of force — their equivalent of an inside pitch,” said Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs during the Obama administration, speaking of Iran’s decision to shoot down the drone.

James G. Stavridis, who retired as a four-star admiral after serving as the supreme allied commander at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, warned that the two countries were in a dangerous game that could quickly spiral out of control. He described Iran’s downing of the drone, which costs about $130 million, as a “logical albeit highly dangerous escalatory move by Iran.”

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After Iran’s Drone Attack, Trump Says This Country ‘Will Not Stand for It’

WASHINGTON — President Trump blamed someone “loose and stupid” in Iran for shooting down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, and in bellicose comments warned that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

But the president at the same time appeared to offer a way out of the crisis, saying that he suspected it was some individual in Iran who “made a big mistake,” even as Iran had taken credit for the strike and asserted that the high-altitude American drone was operating over Iranian air space, which American officials denied.

Mr. Trump drew an important distinction in stating that the episode would have been far more serious if the aircraft had been a piloted vehicle, and not a drone. It made “a big, big difference” that an American pilot was not threatened, he said.

Both sides said the downing occurred at 4:05 a.m. Iranian time on Thursday, or 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Washington and Tehran accused the other of being the aggressor, increasing tensions even as fears of war have erupted between the two countries. Asked what would happen next, Mr. Trump told reporters on Thursday afternoon, “Let’s see what happens.”

The White House invited the leadership from Congress to a classified briefing Thursday afternoon about Iran.

Iran’s destruction of the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some American Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and surveillance assets to the region.

Where U.S. Said Drone Was Shot Down

Source: Department of Defense

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the Air Force commander for the Central Command region in the Middle East, said the attack could have endangered “innocent civilians,” even though officials at Central Command continued to assert that the drone was over international waters. He said that the closest that the drone got to the Iranian coast was 21 miles.

[What we know and don’t know about Iran shooting down an American drone.]

The episode comes just days after American officials blamed Iran for recent attacks on foreign shipping tankers that also took place near the Strait of Hormuz, the vital waterway for much of the world’s oil, and an accusation that Iran has denied.

Mr. Trump’s comments in the Oval Office reflected the longstanding tension between the president’s desire to be seen as tough on the world stage and his campaign promise to make sure that the United States did not get tangled in more foreign wars.

The president has embraced a reputation as someone who punches back when he is challenged. For example, just months into his tenure, Mr. Trump launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Syria after a chemical weapon attack.

But he has often talked about ending American involvement in long-running conflicts abroad, describing his “America First” agenda as having little room for being the world’s police force. In a tweet in January, he said he hoped that “Endless Wars, especially those which are fought out of judgment mistakes … will eventually come to a glorious end!”

In Washington, the White House was concerned enough by early reports of the strike that senior officials were summoned Wednesday evening to discuss the matter. On Wednesday night, Mr. Trump appeared to dismiss talk of war with Iran at the end of a phone interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News. Asked by Mr. Hannity about his promise not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, Mr. Trump said, “I would say if I were you, don’t worry about a thing.”

Mr. Trump’s top national security aides were heading to the White House on Thursday to meet about Iran. Both Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary who resigned on Tuesday after reports about his divorce, and his successor, Mark Esper, the Army secretary who will take the position on Sunday, were at the White House for the meeting, Pentagon officials said.

Video

Westlake Legal Group e135963484684192a5094b6158274d22-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 After Iran’s Drone Attack, Trump Says This Country ‘Will Not Stand for It’ United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

A Times analysis of a video and images publicly released by the U.S. Defense Department indicates that an Iranian patrol boat removed an object from a tanker in the Gulf of Oman on June 13 that may have been a limpet mine.CreditCreditU.S. Dept. of Defense

“I think it’s a dangerous situation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. “This is a dangerous neighborhood.”

She warned against actions that could damage the country’s interest in the region. “Let’s make sure that we don’t have a beating of the drum for something without the clarity of fact involved,” she added. “Let’s get the facts as to how we got to this place.”

According to Iranian media, a foreign minister spokesman there said that flying a drone into Iranian airspace was an “aggressive and provocative” move by the United States.

Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said crossing the country’s border was “our red line,” the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported. He said shooting down the drone was evidence of “how the Iranian nation deals with its enemies.”

“We are not going to get engaged in a war with any country, but we are fully prepared for war,” Mr. Salami said at a military ceremony in Sanandaj, Iran, according to a translation from Press TV, a state-run news outlet. “Today’s incident was a clear sign of this precise message, so we are continuing our resistance.”

Iranian media said the drone had flown over Iranian territory unauthorized, and reported that it had been shot down in the province of Hormozgan, along the country’s southern coast on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Both the United States and Iran identified the aircraft as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, a surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_150219237_e81cfc5a-626f-4234-b328-cefd75888c78-articleLarge After Iran’s Drone Attack, Trump Says This Country ‘Will Not Stand for It’ United States Politics and Government Middle East Iran Gulf of Oman Incident (June 2019) Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Yemeni fighters loyal to the Saudi-led coalition at the front line in Nehim, Yemen.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

As Mr. Trump has announced the deployment of an additional 2,500 troops — alongside more surveillance equipment — to the Middle East to combat what the United States has described as a rising Iranian threat, Iranian forces are now demonstrating that they have the ability to restrict the American military’s ability to do just that.

“This was a show of force — their equivalent of an inside pitch,” said Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs during the Obama administration. “This is another example of their own ‘maximum pressure’ strategy,” he added, in a reference to the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure strategy that has put a stranglehold on Iranian oil exports over the past year.

But James G. Stavridis, who retired as a four-star admiral after serving as NATO commander, warned that the two countries were in a dangerous game that could quickly spiral out of control. He described Iran’s downing of the drone, which costs about $130 million, as a “logical albeit highly dangerous escalatory move by Iran.”

American officials said last week that Iran had fired a surface-to-air missile at a drone over the Gulf of Oman, on the same day that two tanker ships were attacked. United States officials have blamed Iran for the attacks on the tankers, as well as similar attacks in May against four tankers near the United Arab Emirates, a charge that has been strenuously denied in Tehran.

On Wednesday, United States officials sought to bolster their case that Iran was responsible for last week’s tanker attacks, telling journalists at a briefing that fragments recovered from one of the tankers bore a “striking resemblance” to limpet mines used by Iran.

A Navy official also said the investigation had found fingerprints and other valuable information at the scene; earlier, the United States had released video of what it said was an Iranian boat crew removing a limpet mine from one of the tankers.

Last year, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran, over the objections of China, Russia and American allies in Europe. He has also imposed punishing economic sanctions on Iran, trying to cut off its already limited access to international trade, including oil sales.

Iran has warned of serious consequences if Europe does not find a way around those sanctions, though it has denied involvement in the attacks on tankers near the vital Strait of Hormuz. On Monday, Iran said it would soon stop abiding by a central component of the nuclear deal, the limit on how much enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What We Know About Iran Shooting Down a U.S. Drone

Westlake Legal Group whatweknow-facebookJumbo What We Know About Iran Shooting Down a U.S. Drone United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Strait of Hormuz Persian Gulf Iran Gulf of Oman Drones (Pilotless Planes)

Iran shot down an American spy drone early Thursday. On that, the United States and Iran agree.

The crucial matter, though, is whether that drone ventured into Iranian airspace, as Tehran asserts, or whether it stayed in international airspace, as the United States asserts.

  • The drone was unmanned and unarmed. The RQ-4A Global Hawk drone is essentially a high-altitude robot used for surveillance over the ocean and coastal areas.

  • The drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Both United States Central Command and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps say the high-altitude drone was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. That is a demonstration by the Iranians that they have that capability, something the United States will take note of in the future.

  • This escalates the crisis in the Persian Gulf. Ever since President Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear agreement between Iran and five other nations last year, and hit Iran with sanctions that have largely choked off their oil exports, the two adversaries have gone back and forth toward increased conflict. The United States says that last week Iran attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a charge that Iran denies.

  • Did the drone venture into Iranian airspace? This is key. In the battle for global public opinion, and more important, for rallying allies, this question will have to be answered. So far, the United States has not given a precise location for the drone beyond saying it was over the Strait of Hormuz.

Where U.S. Said Drone Was Shot Down

Source: Department of Defense

  • Why did Iran shoot down the drone? There are many theories here, and some depend on whether the drone actually ventured into Iranian airspace. If it did, then it was the Americans, and not the Iranians, who were being provocative. If the drone was in international airspace, then Iran just raised the stakes significantly.

  • What happens next? Mr. Trump is meeting with top officials at the White House to determine how to respond. Watch this closely: The American response will probably provide a clue as to whether the drone was in Iranian airspace or over international waters.

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