Trump said he ordered a deadly strike on Iran
But he changed his mind just 10 minutes before a number of warships and aircraft were due to launch the assault. The strikes were set to take place just before dawn yesterday to minimise the risk to civilians and the Iranian military. Yesterday, Mr Trump confirmed he was poised to attack Iran – a move which could lead to war.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in international waters. We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on three different sites when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.
Desperate “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.
“Sanctions are biting and more added last night. Iran can never have nuclear weapons, not against the USA and not against the world.
The President also launched a scathing attack on his predecessor, Barack Obama.
He tweeted: “President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran.
“He gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH!
“Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out, gave them a free path to nuclear weapons and soon.
“Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America.
“I terminated the deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions.
“They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are bust.”
Sources said Mr Trump had initially approved the assault on a handful of Iranian targets, including radar and missile batteries.
Tehran yesterday denied claims Mr Trump had requested a meeting and said it had refrained from shooting down an American spy plane with 35 people onboard, alongside the downed drone.
The Iranian Air Force claimed a manned Boeing P-8 Poseidon patrol plane was flying alongside the drone at the time it was shot down.
Mr Trump reportedly sent a message to Iran via its conduit Oman, calling for talks and de-escalation.
Officials in Tehran said they were not aware of that message but Oman had warned overnight that an attack was imminent.
“Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one official was quoted as saying.
“He gave a short period of time to get our response.”
The official said that it was now up to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to decide whether to respond.
On Thursday, Mr Trump described the downing of the drone as a “very big mistake”.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will decide whether to respond to Trump’s strike
Iran’s state-controlled broadcaster yesterday claimed to have published photographs of the remaining drone fragments but the pictures could not be independently verified.
The Revolutionary Guard’s commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said Iran had sent “warnings” to the drone before shooting it down, at about 4am local time.
“We had two stages of warnings,” he said. “They did not respond.”
“When it did not redirect its route and continued flying toward and into our territory, we had to shoot it at 4.05am. Our national security is a red line.”
America has claimed the drone was flying over international waters.
Since the drone was shot down, the Federal Aviation Administration has banned most US civil aircraft from flying in Iranian-controlled airspace over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Other carriers – including the Dutch KLM and Australian airline Qantas – have halted flights over the Strait of Hormuz.
Tensions between the two countries rose last week when US officials blamed Iran for attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has denied any involvement.
Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday that America would be sending 1,000 additional troops to the region.