President Donald Trump asked his top aides about the possibility of taking military action against Iran’s nuclear program before leaving office, The New York Times (NYT) reported Monday.
Trump reportedly asked his aides about Iran’s nuclear program after international inspectors discovered a marked increase in the nation’s nuclear stockpile, according to NYT. The inspectors reportedly say the country currently possesses 5,385 pounds of low-enriched uranium which, once further enriched over the course of several months, would be enough to create two nuclear weapons. It is unclear whether Trump was truly interested in attacking Iran or merely taking stock of his administration’s options.
Trump has argued since the earliest days of his administration that former President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal was ineffective in preventing the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. His administration stopped honoring the terms of the deal and reinstated sanctions on Iran in August. The Iranian government responded by no longer publicly honoring the deal’s limits on its uranium fuel supply.
“My administration will not allow this Iran nuclear situation to go on,” Trump said in August. “They will never have a nuclear weapon, Iran will never have. Mark it down, mark it down. Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”
Trump has imposed increasingly severe sanctions against Iran since 2019 but has not taken military action since the killing of General Qasim Soleimani in the early weeks of 2020.
The reported meeting came the same week that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows held a phone call with other senior Trump aides to discuss what the administration could accomplish in the lame-duck period before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
While the call assumed the failure of the Trump campaign’s various legal challenges to the result of the elections in Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, it indicated the administration plans to actively use the nine weeks before Inauguration Day. The call reportedly concluded with a directive to find 15 areas where the administration could take meaningful action, but the topics reportedly pertained mostly to immigration, school choice and China policy.