- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump on Thursday said he hopes the US is not “going to war with Iran.”
- The US and Iran are in the midst of a military standoff after the Trump administration deployed military assets to the Middle East in response to unspecified threats.
- The Trump administration has so far offered vague answers on what its plans are regarding Iran, which has even frustrated some Republican lawmakers as Democrats raise alarm bells about a potential war.
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President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday said “I hope not” when asked by a reporter if the US is “going to war with Iran.”
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have reached new heights in recent weeks after the US deployed military assets to the Middle East – including an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers – in response to unspecified threats to US forces in the region.
Some reports have suggested that the Trump administration has considered sending 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran threatens US service members stationed there or takes significant steps toward obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Trump has dismissed these reports, but also said he’d be willing to send “a hell of a lot more” troops than 120,000 if necessary.
Q: "Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?
President Trump: "I hope not." pic.twitter.com/DpF8sJTMLq
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 16, 2019
Meanwhile, other reports have suggested Trump is frustrated with advisers pushing for a more aggressive approach and doesn’t think now is the right time for a strike against Iran. Publicly, Trump has also called on Iranian leaders to sit down and hold talks.
Democratic lawmakers have raised alarm bells as the situation escalates, zeroing-in on White House National Security Adviser John Bolton as the driving force behind Trump’s Iran policy. Bolton has long been hawkish toward Tehran and in the past has advocated for military strikes against it.
And some Republican lawmakers, including top Trump allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are apparently frustrated by the lack of information they’re getting from the White House on the Iran situation.
“I think they should tell us what the hell is going on,” Graham told CNN reporter Manu Raju on Thursday. “I’m not doubting it’s a real threat. I’m just frustrated they can’t pick up a phone and tell us.”
The US and Iran have been adversaries since the late 1970s, but former President Barack Obama sought to improve relations to help stabilize the Middle East and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Along these lines, the Obama administration in July 2015 finalized a landmark pact between Iran and other nations – dubbed the Iran nuclear deal.
But Trump withdrew the US from the deal last May despite vocal opposition from key US allies, and the relationship between Washington and Tehran quickly took a turn for the worse. The animosity between the two countries was exacerbated last month when Trump designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.