19:44 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Trump 'Agonised' Over Plans of US Attack on Iran, Senator Reveals

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    President Donald Trump earlier revealed that the US was "cocked & loaded" to strike Iran in retaliation for the downing of an American drone, but he called off the attack upon learning that roughly 150 Iranians would die as a result of the op - something which he deemed disproportionate to the loss of an unmanned aerial vehicle.

    In an interview with CNN's The Situation Room, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman James Risch has disclosed that Donald Trump is a president who "doesn't want to go to war" and revealed the commander-in-chief's hesitations on strikes against Iran.

    "I really watched him agonise over this. It comes down to one man", Risch told reporters.

    Risch was not the only person to have observed how hard it was for Trump to make a decision; House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith also said that the president was "really wrestling with it".

    While the head of state struggled with his own dilemma, this uncertainty was fuelled by his own national security team, who unannamiously believed that Washington should retaliate for the downed US drone by hitting Iranian targets, CNN reported.

    "There was complete unanimity amongst the President's advisers and DOD leadership on an appropriate response to Iran's activities. The President made the final decision", an unnamed senior administration official was quoted as saying.

    Even though Trump initially warned that Iran had made a "very big mistake" by bringing down an American drone, which the Iranian side claimed had violated its airspace, he revealed the last-minute change of heart by halting the scheduled strikes on Tehran minutes before they were set to be carried out.

    In a Friday interview with NBC, the US president reiterated what he had already said in a series of tweets: he aborted the mission after a general told him that approximately 150 Iranians would die in the strikes. According to Trump, the loss of life was not proportionate to the downing of a single unmanned drone.

    The US nearly resorted to a direct confrontation with Iran following an announcement by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that it had downed a US drone over the waters of Hormozgan Province. The Iranian elite unit claimed that the UAV had violated Iranian airspace - an allegation Washington has strongly denied, saying that its drone was operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

    The IRGC commander-in-chief warned that the downing was a "clear message" to the US that Tehran would "react strongly" to any aggression.

    Meanwhile, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh revealed that Iran had warned the US military twice before bringing down the drone, but since it failed to reply, and the UAV made no change to its trajectory, they shot it down.

    The military official further claimed that Iran's air defence troops stopped short of hitting a US reconnaissance plane which was flying not far from the downed drone, and added that the plane was identified as a Boeing P-9 Poseidon with 35 airmen on board.

    The Pentagon has not commented on the claims yet.

    The drone incident is just the latest spike in US-Iran tensions, with Washington deploying an aircaft carrier strike group and a bomber task force, as well as additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East in what National Security Adviser John Bolton described as a "clear and unmistakable message" to the Islamic Republic that any attack on American interests or those of its allies would be met with "unrelenting force".

    US authorities have as well accused Tehran of orchestrating sabotage attacks on oil tankers off the UAE coast in mid-May and in the Gulf of Oman in early June, while Iran hit back by saying that the claims were made "without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence".

    Tags:
    aircraft carrier, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), IRGC, John Bolton, senator, Death, attack, strikes, Drone, Iran, USA, Donald Trump
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