Trump: Alleged Iranian oil tanker attacks 'very minor'


WASHINGTON - In an interview posted this week, President Donald Trump contradicted his top advisers on the threat posed by Iran, saying recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were "very minor."

"So far, it's been very minor," Trump told TIME, discussing two attacks on oil tankers that he and other administration officials have blamed on Iran. The regime has denied responsibility for the attacks.

Just last week, Trump had told Fox and Friends that, "We don't take it lightly, that I can tell you," in reference to the alleged attacks

When asked if he was currently considering military action against Iran, Trump replied, "I wouldn't say that. I can't say that at all."

"I would certainly go over nuclear weapons," Trump said when asked what would prompt him to go to war against Iran, "and I would keep the other a question mark."

Pompeo was Florida Tuesday for a series of meetings and briefings at CENTCOM. Asked about possible U.S. military options against Iran, Pompeo would not discuss specifics but said he talked about a range of options with military leaders there. "I know that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines inside of CENTCOM are ready to respond to any threat that the Islamic Republican of Iran should present to the United States," he said.

More: What to know about Iran's uranium enrichment program

More: Trump says he doesn't want war, but Sen. Cotton called for 'retaliatory strikes' on Iran

On Monday, Iran's nuclear agency warned that the country was 10 days away from breaking its uranium stockpile limit set under a 2015 deal to restrict Iran's stockpile.

In a press conference later on Monday, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters that Iran needed to "abide by their commitments to the international community," in response to a question on whether Iran should continue adhering to the commitments under the deal. The United States withdrew from the deal last year.

Trump also told TIME that the United States' status as an energy exporter made the Gulf of Oman less strategically important for the United States.

"We have made tremendous progress in the last two and a half years in energy. And when the pipelines get built, we're now an exporter of energy," he said. "So we're not in the position that we used to be in in the Middle East where … some people would say we were there for the oil."

According to Trump, Iran has softened its stance towards the U.S. after he took office.

"If you look at the rhetoric now compared to the days when they were signing that agreement, where it was always 'death to America, death to America, we will destroy America, we will kill America,' I'm not hearing that too much anymore," he said. "And I don't expect to."

Iran, however, appears to disagree.

"I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future," Iranian state media quoted Iranian Supreme Ali Khamenei as telling the Japanese premier during a visit to Iran last week.

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Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump: Alleged Iranian oil tanker attacks 'very minor'


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