Update: Iran's top national security official has denied a Reuters report claiming that Tehran had received a low-key message via Oman from the US warning of an imminent attack on the Islamic Republic.
"The US didn’t send any message," Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the National Security Council, told Iranian television.
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More dramatic details have trickled out this morning surrounding last night's US military strike operations on Iran, which were reportedly called off at the last moment by President Trump even as American ships and missile batteries were in position, even including planes in the air ready for an assault.
According to a new Reuters report, Iranian officials say they had received a message from the White House notifying that a major attack on Iran was imminent but that President Trump "was against war and wanted talks on a range of issues".
The New York Times and WSJ reported of the called off attack, citing a handful of senior officials, that the president was prepared to attack a number of Iranian targets, including radar and missile batteries. However, he eventually gave the word to stand down, with the NYT reporting that Trump chose to pull US military forces back.
Reuters says the message was delivered via Oman mediators overnight and it was revealed quickly after Trump had called of the strikes. “In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,” one of the unnamed Iranian officials told Reuters.
“He gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei to decide about this issue,” the source said.
And Reuters cites a second Iranian official, who said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision.” The official added, “However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”
The NYT report had detailed that targets of the planned strike in response to Thursday morning's Iranian shoot down of an American drone included Iranian radar and missile batteries, and set for the early hours of the morning local time in order to reduce risk of Iranian military and civilian deaths.
The political fallout to last night's events, following days of rapid escalation, has already begun:
The place we have arrived at tonight on Iran is Donald Trump’s choice. He chose escalation over diplomacy, without any idea how to get out of the downward spiral he set in motion.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 21, 2019
It is unlikely that the White House is to give confirmation to the Reuters report saying Trump attempted a last minute attempted opening toward negotiations, given it appears increasingly evident that the "maximum pressure" campaign has backfired to some extent.
Iran's leaders have expressly denied the new Reuters report shortly after it was published. Tehran is denying it had received the low-key message via Oman stating a US attack was imminent. "The US didn’t send any message,” Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for the National Security Council, said to Iranian television. “This issue is not in any way correct.”
Regardless, as Middle East analyst and journalist Laura Rozen points out, "Trump admin thought it was driving Iran policy for several months. Now Iran seems to be driving the policy, US reacting."