Dhaka, Jun 22 (UNB) - President Trump has said he does not want war but warned Iran it would face "obliteration" if conflict broke out, reports the BBC.
Speaking to NBC on Friday, he said the US was open to talks but would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
He also expanded on his last-minute decision to call off strikes planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed.
"I didn't like it. I didn't think it was proportionate," he said.
Tehran says the unmanned US aircraft entered Iranian airspace early on Thursday morning. The US maintains it was shot down in international airspace.
Tensions have been escalating between the two countries, with the US recently blaming Iran for attacks on oil tankers operating in the region. Iran has announced it will soon exceed international agreed limits on its nuclear programme.
Last year, the US unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear activities.
The US has now asked the UN Security Council to meet on Monday to discuss Iran.
What did Trump tell NBC?
He said a plan of attack was "ready to go, subject to my approval" but said he had then asked generals how many people would be killed.
"I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead," he told NBC.
He denied suggestions that aircraft had already been on their way to attack Iranian targets - reportedly including Iranian radar and missile batteries - saying: "No planes were in the air."
Addressing Iran's leaders, Mr Trump said: "You can't have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come."
Earlier on Friday Mr Trump tweeted that the US had been "cocked and loaded" to strike.
What reaction has there been?
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was glad the president had not carried out the strikes and said he should seek congressional authorisation before military action.
Adam Smith - the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee - warned it was "not smart" of the president to make the details public, saying it undermined the notion of a clear US plan.
Some US media reports said the strikes had been recommended by the Pentagon, while others said top Pentagon officials had warned a military response could result in a spiralling escalation with risks for US forces in the region.
What does Iran say?
An official warned that "any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences".
"When you violate Iranian territorial space, then we defend," Seyed Sajjadpour, one of Iran's deputy foreign ministers, told the BBC.
It was clear, he added, that there were members of Donald Trump's administration who were intent on overthrowing Iran's government.
President Trump's decision to order – and then abort – an attack still sends a powerful message to Tehran.
The two countries came to the brink of direct conflict. But in this complex game of signalling, just what message will the Iranian leadership receive?
It, after all, had sent a significant warning of its own by downing an unmanned US reconnaissance drone.
Mr Trump initially appeared to play down the incident – but then apparently came the orders for a US retaliatory strike. That was followed by a last-minute change of heart.
The danger now is that Iran receives mixed messages that convey uncertainty and lack of resolve. This might encourage some in Tehran to push back at the Americans even harder.
There appears to be no diplomatic "off-ramp" in this crisis.
US economic sanctions are hitting home. Tehran is under pressure. Escalation remains an ever-present danger.
What happened with the drone?
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced its air force had shot down a US "spy" drone on Thursday morning after the unmanned aircraft violated Iranian airspace near Kuhmobarak in the southern province of Hormozgan.
IRGC commander-in-chief Maj-Gen Hossein Salami said the drone's downing was a "clear message" to the US that Iran's borders were "our red line".
However, US military officials maintain the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at the time.
Iranian officials say two warnings were issued 10 minutes before the drone was shot down.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a high-ranking officer in the IRGC, said another military aircraft, carrying 35 passengers, had been flying close to the drone. "We could have shot down that one too, but we did not," he said.
The shooting down of the drone followed accusations by the US that Iran had attacked two oil tankers with mines last Thursday just outside the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Oman.
Washington, Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — A New York-based advice columnist claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s, according to a first-person account published Friday by New York magazine.
Trump denied the allegations and said, "I've never met this person in my life."
The allegation against Trump by E. Jean Carroll is included in her upcoming book about the "hideous men" that the Elle magazine columnist says she has encountered throughout her life.
Carroll wrote that after what started as a friendly encounter with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996, the real estate mogul pushed her up against a dressing room wall, unzipped his pants and forced himself on her. Carroll said that in a "colossal struggle," she pushed him off and ran from the store.
In his statement, Trump called the accusation "fake news" and said there was no evidence.
"No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?? I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video footage of any such incident, because it never happened," he said.
The Trump Organization, which Trump still owns, did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press, which has not independently verified Carroll's account.
Carroll did not immediately return a call for comment.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct in earlier years. Trump has denied the allegations and said the women are lying. While those cases generally involved groping and kissing without consent, Carroll alleged forced penetration.
Carroll, now 75, wrote in her book excerpt on the magazine's website that Trump recognized her as "that advice lady" as he arrived at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue just as she was leaving. She said Trump invited her to help him buy a present for an unidentified "girl" and she agreed.
Carroll said that after Trump suggested a purchase of lingerie or underwear, he grabbed a bodysuit and urged Carroll to try it on. After some joking around about which one of them should try it on, Trump led Carroll to a dressing room, where, she alleged, Trump pushed her against a wall, pulled down her tights and assaulted her in an episode that lasted under three minutes.
Carrol said there were no attendants in the dressing room area and she did not file a report with the New York Police Department. She said she did, however, tell two journalist friends, one of whom urged her to contact the police while the other advised her to keep quiet, citing Trump's access to lawyers.
New York magazine said it confirmed the accounts of Carroll's friends but it did not identify either individual by name.
Trump was caught on tape in 2005 boasting of grabbing women by their genitals and kissing them without permission. When the tape became public weeks before the November 2016 general election, Trump said he never acted in any of the ways described on the tape, and described it as just "locker-room talk."
In March, a New York state appeals court ruled that Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice" who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping, can move forward with her defamation lawsuit against him.
Trump isn't the only prominent man on the list of men who Carroll alleges have assaulted her.
She also claimed that Les Moonves, the former CEO of CBS, mauled her in the elevator of a Beverly Hills hotel after she interviewed him in 1997. Moonves was one of television's most influential figures when he was ousted in September 2018 following allegations by women who said he subjected them to mistreatment, including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.
Moonves told New York magazine that he "emphatically denies" the incident occurred. He did not respond to the AP's requests for comment.
Washington , Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump says he abruptly called off the military strikes on Iran Thursday because the likely deaths of 150 Iranians would have been out of proportion to the shootdown of an unmanned American surveillance drone.
He is also indicating he still hopes for talks with Iranian leaders rather than any escalation of military conflict.
Trump says he is "in no hurry," adding that increasingly severe sanctions meant to push Iran to the nuclear negotiating table are "biting" the Iranian economy.
Iran, though, is showing no public inclination to negotiate. It is unclear whether Trump, who says the U.S. military had been "cocked and loaded" to hit Iran, is considering new military options.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Iran's financial sector will soon face penalties if it doesn't work to stop evading international guidelines designed to combat money laundering.
Mnuchin says Iran has not taken steps to comply with the guidelines. As a result, he says, branches and subsidiaries of financial institutions based in Iran will be subjected to increased oversight.
Mnuchin spoke Friday in Orlando, Florida, at a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force. That is a global organization started in 1989 that works to stop money laundering, financing of militant networks and other threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The task force says Iran has until October to make progress toward compliance before additional counter-measures will be taken.
The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' message to the United States and Iran is to avoid anything that would escalate the current tense situation and "to have nerves of steel."
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters Friday that "the secretary-general firmly believes in the need for dialogue between the parties involved as probably the best way to defuse tension and to avoid any escalation."
Dujarric said the U.N. has been in contact with the parties at various levels and is passing the same message in public and it is in private, "which is to avoid any escalation."
Dujarric announced that Guterres will be attending the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, next week but said he didn't know yet if the secretary-general would meet there with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Tensions have escalated dramatically since Iran downed a large U.S. drone which it said violated its airspace. The U.S. said the unmanned drone was in international airspace.
Diplomats say the United States has asked for a closed Security Council meeting on Monday on recent developments regarding Iran and the latest tanker incidents.
Two well-informed diplomats confirmed the U.S. request on Friday and said the closed consultations are likely to take place on Monday afternoon. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Honolulu, Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — Authorities in Hawaii are investigating after nine people were killed in a small plane crash.
The crash occurred Friday evening on the North Shore of Oahu. Officials say there were no survivors in the crash at Dillingham Airfield.
Honolulu Police Chief Manuel Neves said the plane was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived. The crash was far from the airfield's runway, near perimeter fencing.
Other details of the crash weren't immediately known.
Names of the victims have not been released.
Washington, June 22 (AP/UNB) — The planes were ready — their deadly cargo poised for delivery within a half-hour.
President Donald Trump had been given a series of options Thursday night on how to respond to Iran’s downing of an unmanned American surveillance drone. Senior military advisers zeroed in on a plan to launch strikes on a trio of sites within Iran, and it was up to Trump to give the final go-ahead.
If the planes took off, Trump later recounted to NBC, they would soon be at “a point where you wouldn’t turn back or couldn’t turn back.”
Trump’s decision point came at the culmination of a tense 24 hours inside the West Wing after the drone went down.
How would he make his decision? “My gut,” he told legislators.
When the military officers came looking for the president’s final go-ahead, Trump said he had one last question.
″‘I want to know something before you go,’” Trump recounted. ”‘How many people will be killed?’”
This account is based on information from more than a dozen legislators, congressional aides, administration officials and others, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Hours earlier, a model of a proposed new Air Force One was perched on the coffee table in the Oval Office. Its Trump-designed red, white and blue color scheme glistened under the Oval Office lights.
Seated behind the plane were Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose visit to Washington on Thursday to discuss trade and tariffs was suddenly upstaged by the rising tensions in the Middle East. With reporters peppering Trump with a cacophony of questions about how he would respond to Tehran, the president took a moment to extoll the virtues of the new presidential plane. “It’s going to be terrific,” he declared.
But what to do about Iran?
“You’ll find out. You’ll find out,” Trump said. “They made a very big mistake.”
The president, who had just come from a briefing on the incident, seemed to telegraph what he had learned, declaring, “I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth.”
“I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”
Over a year earlier, Trump had defied most of the United States’ allies by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and strengthening sanctions on the regime, choking the Iranian economy and pushing Tehran to escalate tensions. Trudeau, who largely looked on in silence while Trump fielded questions, used his brief remarks to highlight the need for close coordination among nations.
“We look forward to discussing with our closest ally — their perspectives on this — and how we can move forward as an international community,” the Canadian prime minister said.
Trump, for his part, made no mention of alliances.
Trudeau’s meeting later that afternoon with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was abruptly cancelled when McConnell was summoned to the White House for a briefing on Iran.
But there was a glaring omission on the invitation list for briefing top congressional leaders and national security committee chairmen.
The heads of the House and Senate foreign relations committees were quickly added once the White House was reminded the panels have jurisdiction over the War Powers Act, according to a congressional aide familiar with the situation.
Once assembled, the lawmakers around the table made their case, one by one. Trump seemed eager to hear their opinions, even those of House Democrats who have launched a slew of investigations into the president.
“These conflicts have a way of escalating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the president. Even if Trump didn’t intend to go to war, Schumer said, he could “bumble” into one.
The legislators saw “a commander in chief who struggled with the issue,” said Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “It was painful for him.”
Democrats made the case for caution, for partnering with allies, for taking a breath to de-escalate, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would put it later. Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff told the administration it could not continue to rely on the war authorizations approved by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
White House reporters and photographers trained their eyes on a West Wing side door where the legislators would emerge, looking for any clues to what had transpired. When the legislators did turn up, there was a perplexing image: Schumer pumped his arms skyward in a celebratory “raise the roof” gesture while Pelosi cheerfully clapped.
Had the Democrats talked the president out of war? Had some sort of deal been struck?
Neither. It turned out Schumer had just relayed the happy news that his elderly mother had been released from the hospital.
“We left with the idea the president was going to consider some options,” Pelosi said.
Televisions across the White House were tuned, as usual, to Fox News. Tucker Carlson’s image flickered on the screen as he made his case earlier in the week against going to war with Iran.
Carlson was making a similar case to Trump in private, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the West Wing.
Trump had been soliciting a wide array of opinions about Iran after a pair of tankers were damaged a week earlier near the Strait of Hormuz, an incident U.S. officials blamed on the Iranians. The president was growing frustrated with his national security adviser John Bolton’s advocacy for a strike, the officials said
The attack on the drone put the military option on the table.
But when Trump asked his question Thursday about how many Iranians could die in the strikes, the answer gave him pause. He was told 150 Iranian lives were at stake.
“I thought about it for a second,” Trump told NBC, “and I said: ‘You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it. And here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.’ And I didn’t like it. I didn’t think, I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
The president, long opposed to being drawn into a military conflict in the Middle East and in particular with an unpredictable foe like Iran, played up the drama of the moment. He tweeted Friday morning that the military had been “cocked and loaded” and that the weaponry was only 10 minutes away from being deployed.
As the day went on, a sense of normalcy returned to the White House.
On Friday afternoon, lawmakers filtered into the White House south lawn for the annual congressional picnic — just steps away from the windowless, basement Situation Room where security officials had debated what could come next.
Risch’s prediction: “There’s going to be something more proportional, obviously, and I suspect it’s going to be not kinetic action.”