US, Iran Say War Is Not Sought, But Tensions Continue to Rise

Trump calls tanker attacks 'minor' as Pompeo emphasizes deterrence

Tensions between the US and Iran continue to rise, and with them comes a lot of speculation about an imminent war. For all this, however, US and Iranian officials seem to be near-unanimous in expressing their desire to avoid any war.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vowed that Iran would “not wage war with any nation,” but all signs are that Iranian officials don’t see much merit in another round of diplomacy after the US withdrew from the hard-negotiated nuclear deal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had previously been emphasizing the military options under consideration, now insists the US deployments to the region are entirely for deterrence’s sake, and despite how many there are getting to be in the region, the US doesn’t seek a war.

President Trump was also keen to reiterate that he doesn’t intend to go to war with Iran, or at least that he wants there to be a “question mark” over whether he’d start a war with Iran over any matter other than nuclear weapons.

The Gulf of Oman incident clearly doesn’t seem to be a war-starter, however, with Trump calling the attacks “very minor.” Though he appeared reluctant to elaborate, it doesn’t seem that a “very minor” incident would be something to start a war over.

Yet in the meantime, it’s unclear what might be able to calm down the tensions. Iran isn’t going to engage without any reason to think the US would be any more trustworthy than last time, while US “maximum pressure” policy will likely just mean continued military deployments and sanctions going forward.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of