US President Donald Trump has reportedly asked his advisers last week about the options he could have to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
“A range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike,” The New York Times reported Monday as the president was still refusing to accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Vice president Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others reportedly told the outgoing president that such action could spiral out of control.
White House officials have not yet responded to the report.
Iran has time and again maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful.
Trump has unilaterally withdrawn Washington from the internationally back nuclear deal with Tehran and reimposed sanctions.
The Islamic Republic has asserted that it stands ready to defend its interests in the face of any US aggression.
The Times report further read: “A strike on Iran may not play well to his base, which is largely opposed to a deeper American conflict in the Middle East, but it could poison relations with Tehran so that it would be much harder for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, as he has promised to do.”
US President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on 20 January, has said he will consider rejoining the nuclear deal so long as Iran returns to full compliance and commits to further negotiations.
Last Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report saying that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium had reached 2,442.9kg (5,385.6lb) far above the 202.8kg limit set under the nuclear deal and theoretically enough to produce two nuclear weapons.
Low-enriched uranium which typically has a 3-5 per cent concentration of uranium-235, the most suitable isotope for nuclear fission can be used to produce fuel for power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90 per cent enriched or more.
The IAEA also said Iran had finished moving the first cascade of advanced centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, from an above-ground plant at its Natanz enrichment facility to an underground plant. The nuclear deal says the underground plant cannot be used for advanced centrifuges.
The US and Iran came close to war this January after Trump ordered a drone strike in Iraq that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, saying the Revolutionary Guards general was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops.
Iran responded by firing ballistic missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US forces. No Americans were killed, but more than 100 were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.