(June 18, 2019 / JNS) U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to downplay last week’s alleged attack by Iran against two tankers—one carrying oil and the other transferring a freight of methanol—in the Gulf of Oman near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, less than a month after Iran was blamed for attacking four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
“I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark,” the president told TIME magazine.
Trump was talking to the outlet as the Pentagon announced on Monday that the United States will send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions escalate between Washington and Tehran.
“In response to a request from the U.S. Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” said Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a statement.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” he said, reiterating Trump’s statement that the “United States does not seek conflict with Iran.”
“The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests,” said Shanahan. “We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats.”
The ongoing tensions between America and Iran seemed to reach a tipping point late last week when the United States blamed Iran for being behind the attack on two ships in the Gulf of Oman, less than a month after Iran was blamed for attacking four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that “of course” the United States could take military action.
“The United States is considering a full range of options. We have briefed the president a couple of times, [and] we’ll continue to keep him updated. We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set,” he said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Like Shanahan on Monday, Pompeo reiterated that the president does not want to go to war.
“The president will consider everything we need to do to make sure, right? But what’s the president said? We don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” said Pompeo. “President Trump has said very clearly, he doesn’t want to go to war.”