Trump Creates Doubts About What He Would Attack Iran Over

Says he would attack over nuclear weapons, leaves 'question mark' for the rest

After months of talk of the US attacking Iran, President Trump has finally spoken directly on the matter. Unfortunately, he largely left the question unanswered, saying he prefers to keep the matter a “question mark.

Trump told an interviewer with Time Magazine that he would ‘certainly go over nuclear weapons,” but didn’t want to commit one way or the other on a war against Iran for other reasons, including free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf.

Trump has long favored having an unclear foreign policy on specifics, leaving open the possibility of a surprise war that no one sees coming, and also hoping to make people nervous about where the line is as a way to try to use the perceived threat as a bargaining chip.

But leaving the flow of oil a “question mark” seems to be a change in US military policy, as officials have long presented keeping oil flowing across the Middle East as a prime goal of the huge US military presence in the region.

Which isn’t to say Trump doesn’t intend to go to war if that becomes an issue. Rather, it may be about convincing other countries in the region to commit themselves to participating in such efforts.

Not that it is expected to come to that. Indeed, saying he’d only go to war over Iran getting nuclear weapons is as good as saying he’s not going to war, as Iran is not enriching uranium to anywhere near weapons-grade levels, nor intending to attempt to do so. As ever, Iran’s program is purely civilian, and even if the US doesn’t always approve of it, the lack of a weapons-dimension should keep that from being a pretext for war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of