On Tuesday, Iran responded to a report from The New York Times that said President Trump reviewed options to strike Iran’s main nuclear facility but was talked out of pursuing a military attack. An Iranian spokesman said any attack on Iran would be met with a “crushing” response.
The Times report cited anonymous sources, but so far, no Trump administration officials have challenged the story. The administration is expected to ratchet up pressure on Iran as much as possible before January 20th with the goal of making it difficult for Joe Biden to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal.
President Trump could still opt for other ways to hit Iran’s nuclear program, like a cyber-attack or a covert operation. Back in July, Israel reportedly sabotaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility by planting an explosive that caused a fire, setting back the facility’s centrifuge program. The US and Israel launched a cyber-attack on Natanz in 2010, using a virus known as Stuxnet.
European officials spoke with Business Insider and expressed their concern over the situation with the US and Iran. Some officials fear Israel or Saudi Arabia might see the end of the Trump administration as their last chance for a war with Iran. Another fear is that the US will go through with a unilateral action to force a military confrontation with Iran to make it impossible for Biden to return to the nuclear deal.
In July, during a string of mysterious fires and explosions in Iran, officials told Insider that Israel was responsible for some of the incidents, including at Natanz. The officials said Israel was trying to provoke a military confrontation with Iran before President Trump could be voted out.
On Monday, US Central Command said a detachment of US Air Force F-16 fighter jets moved from Germany to the UAE. The base in the UAE the F-16s moved to has been at the center of operations for planes patrolling the Persian Gulf to monitor Iran’s navy. The F-16 movement could be a sign the US is preparing for a wider conflict in the region, or the planes could have been moved to replace F-35s that left the base in October to return to the US.