Amid rising tension in the Middle East and escalations between the United States and Iran over past weeks, President Donald Trump said during an interview on British television that there was still a “chance” of military intervention in Iran.
According to The Hill, the question came from Piers Morgan, co-host of Good Morning Britain, who asked the president in an interview shown Wednesday morning about the “situation” in Iran and if Trump was still considering military action.
Before answering Morgan’s question, Trump went through a brief history of Iran’s actions since he took office, which included highlighting the country’s involvement with sponsoring terrorism. He then railed the Obama administration for the “terrible” Iran nuclear deal they set in place that “didn’t do the trick.”
Trump said that because he terminated the Iran nuclear deal, the country has become “much different” today.
Morgan pressed the president on the question for a second time, asking if he thinks the U.S. will “need to take military action.”
“There is always a chance. Do I want to? No, I’d rather not. But there’s always a chance,” Trump answered, further informing Morgan that he’d “much rather talk” with Iranian leadership to solve any issues, as opposed to involving the U.S. military.
Trump on prospect of military action against Iran: "There is always a chance. Do I want to? No, I’d rather not. But there’s always a chance.” He added, “I’d much rather talk.” @maggieNYT
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) June 5, 2019
Trump also explained to Morgan that having the power to unleash the United States nuclear arsenal, if need be, is a “terrible responsibility” but one that he’s “ready to handle.”
The rekindled fire between the two countries comes roughly a year after the Trump administration ditched the nuclear deal set in place by the Obama administration. Sanctions imposed last year by the U.S. — and even stricter ones last month that ordered all countries to stop imports of Iranian oil — stoked the flames in recent weeks.
Also in May, the commander-in-chief ordered a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region in order to deter Iran from additional “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” that, according to The Hill, haven’t yet been identified.
On May 19, Trump tweeted an especially dire threat against Iran that caught the immediate attention of the world.
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to Trump’s tweet threat, saying “genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.'”
At the time, the Trump administration had announced plans to deploy some 120,000 U.S. troops to the area, but later ordered only 1,500 for deployment. These troops were sent to serve in a “mostly protective” capacity.
The president insisted that regime change was not something he wanted to pursue.
According to CNBC, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the country would be willing to talk with U.S. leaders but wouldn’t be pressured into doing so.