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After threatening to strike Iran in retaliation for shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone, President Trump reportedly approved, and then abruptly called off, military strikes. The move came after the operation was already underway in its initial stages, with warships and planes already being put into position.
We go to Tehran to get response from Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran who was part of the nuclear deal negotiations in 2015. We also speak with CUNY professor and historian Ervand Abrahamian, author of several books about Iran. Whether or not Trump wants war with Iran doesn't ultimately matter, says Abrahamian. "The long-term agenda in the White House" from Bolton, Pompeo and others is much more aggressive. "They want basically the destruction of the Islamic Republic."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today's show with news that President Trump approved, then abruptly called off, U.S. preparations for a military strike against Iran. The move came after the operation was already underway in its initial stages, with warships and planes already being put into position. The New York Times reports President Trump approved the strikes in retaliation for Iran shooting down an unmanned U.S. military surveillance drone with a surface-to-air missile, but then called off the attacks at the last minute last night. U.S. officials said targets would have included radars and missile batteries in Iran, and that strikes were scheduled for just before dawn this morning in order to minimize the risk to civilians and the Iranian military. It remains unclear if attacks on Iran might go ahead later.
Iran says the U.S. drone it shot down was on a spy mission over Iranian airspace, but Washington says it was shot down over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. The Associated Press reports the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division says Iran had warned the drone several times before launching a missile at it. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Iranian state television on Friday, quote, "Unfortunately they did not answer." Trump spoke to reporters about the downed drone Thursday in the Oval Office when he was meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented. It's documented scientifically, not just words. And they made a very bad mistake.- Advertisement -
REPORTER: How will you respond, Mr. President? How will you respond?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You'll find out.
REPORTER: Are you going to go to war with Iran?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You'll find out. You'll find out. I mean, obviously...obviously...obviously, you know, we're not going to be talking too much about it. You're going to find out. They made a very big mistake.
AMY GOODMAN: Amidst tensions over the downing of the U.S. drone, the Federal Aviation Administration has now barred American aircraft from flying over Iranian-administered airspace in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Other airlines have also changed the routing of their planes.
All of this comes after Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran last year and has imposed economic sanctions on Iran. On Tuesday, the U.S. announced it was sending a thousand more troops to the region. In May, it also announced a 1,500-troop increase after attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and has repeatedly said it's not seeking war with the United States.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top Trump officials have reportedly been linking Iran to al-Qaeda and the Taliban during closed-door briefings with congressional lawmakers, in what Democrats fear could be part of a plan to invoke the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to attack Iran.
For more, we're going to Tehran, Iran, where we're joined via Democracy Now! video stream by Mohammad Marandi, professor of English literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. He was part of the nuclear deal negotiations in 2015. Here in New York, we're joined by Ervand Abrahamian. He is a retired professor of history at City University of New York. He's the author of several books, including The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations.