WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said that he dropped the plan of a military strike on Iran in retaliation of its downing of an unmanned U.S. drone.
Trump said that he did so because it could have killed 150 people.
President Trump indicated that he was open to talks with Tehran.
An Iranian surface-to-air missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone on Thursday. Tehran said the drone was shot down over its territory and Washington said it occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
The incident heightened tensions between the US and Iran, raising fear of full-blown confrontation. Oil futures rose more than 1% to above $65 per barrel on Friday over worries about possible disruptions to crude exports from the Gulf.
Trump’s decision to cancel what he said was a planned attack on three sites suggests he wants a diplomatic solution to end weeks of festering tensions with Iran,.
“I’m not looking for war, and if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that,” Trump told NBC News in an interview aired on Friday night.
US media earlier reported that Trump had warned Tehran via Oman that a U.S. attack was imminent, but had said he was against war and wanted talks. Washington also requested a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday.
In a series of early-morning tweets, Trump said he was in no hurry to launch a strike and that U.S. economic sanctions designed to force Iran to curb its nuclear and missile programs and its involvement in regional wars were having an effect.
“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night,” Trump tweeted.
“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” Trump tweeted.