Donald Trump stopped strike on Iran 10 minutes before

Updated: Jun 22, 2019, 13:41 IST | Agencies

US president says he is in 'no hurry' to bomb Iran; US special representative on Iran says it has no right to respond to diplomacy 'with military force'

Donald Trump stopped strike on Iran 10 minutes before
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh (R), Iran's Head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, speaks to media next to debris from a downed US drone reportedly recovered within Iran’s territorial waters. Pic/AFP

Washington: President Donald Trump on Friday said the US military was "cocked and loaded" to retaliate against Iran after it downed an American spy drone, but he changed his mind 10 minutes before the planned strikes on three Iranian targets after being told that 150 people could die.

The late reversal was first reported by the New York Times on Thursday night after President Trump tweeted, "Iran made a very big mistake!" The newspaper said the operation had been "in its early stages" when President Trump called off the US military action against Tehran.

On Friday, Trump confirmed the report and tweeted, "10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone". "I am in no hurry," Trump said. He said he had called off strikes after being told that 150 people would die.

The attacks on three Iranian sites were planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week. Iran said Thursday that its elite Revolutionary Guard shot down an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone as it flew over southern Iran and that the incident sent a "clear message to America".

Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace. The aborted US strikes against Iran on Thursday were meant to target a limited set of Iranian radars and missile batteries, CNN quoted a US official with direct knowledge of the matter as saying. The strikes were set to begin on Thursday night when the White House called them off, said the official.

The US said Friday Iran has no right to respond to diplomacy "with military force." "Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force," Brian Hook, the US special representative on Iran, told reporters in Saudi Arabia. "Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force," he said.

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