Pence: Unclear if Iran's leaders approved downing of U.S. drone




Pence: Unclear if Iran
Pence: Unclear if Iran's leaders approved downing of U.S. drone  

The Trump administration is still not sure that Iran's leaders authorized the downing of an American drone last week, according to Vice President Mike Pence.

"We're not convinced it was authorized at the highest levels," Pence said on Sunday during an interview with CNN's "State of the Union."

President Donald Trump last week said he nixed a retaliatory strike on Iran at the last minute, tweeting that he called it off after learning it would likely have cost 150 lives.

"This is a president who's always going to count the cost," Pence said. "The president looked at the potential loss of human life and concluded that was not proportionate."

However, the decision to cancel the strike should not be mistaken "for lack of resolve and all options are on the table and the United States will defend our troops and the region," he added, echoing similar comments by national security adviser John Bolton.

The vice president shrugged off reports that he, Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the strike.

"All of the national security team around this president supported providing him with the broadest range of options, including the use of military force," Pence said. "But the president is the one that makes the decision and, as he indicated very late in the process, he was given an estimate that just simply was unacceptable to him."

Echoing Trump, Pence said the U.S. would be willing to meet with Iranian officials without preconditions.

"We are not going to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon," he said.

Speaking on the topic in Jerusalem on Sunday, Bolton said Iran should not mistake prudence for weakness.

"No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday our military is rebuilt, new and ready to go," Bolton said standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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