President Trump discussed retaliatory measures against Iran’s nuclear program during a White House meeting with his national security team last week after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported a sizable increase in the country’s uranium stockpile, Fox News confirmed on Monday.
Trump broached the possibility of military action with senior advisers after the international inspectors said Iran was producing 12 times the amount of uranium than was allowed under the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), senior officials with knowledge of the matter said. The discussions included a seeming admission by members of Trump’s national security team that he would no longer be president after Jan. 20.
The officials said the Trump administration might therefore need to take action before that date, given an internal assumption that President-elect Biden and his team are more likely to engage Iran and try to return to a deal like the JCPOA. Trump withdrew U.S. support for the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.
The New York Times was first to report on the meeting.
Seniors advisers urged Trump not to pursue a military strike against Iran, according to the New York Times report. The officials warned that an attack could spark a larger military conflict with Iran in the coming weeks.
The IAEA report said Iran has amassed a stockpile of 5,385.7 pounds of low-enriched uranium as of Nov. 2, up from 4,641.6 pounds reported on Aug. 25. The report said Iran has also continued to enrich uranium to a higher purity than allowed in the 2015 deal.
Israeli officials have expressed concern that a Biden administration would attempt to re-engage with Iran on a nuclear agreement similar to the Obama-era deal, which Israel opposed. Pompeo will visit Jerusalem this week and is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
The Trump administration has taken a hardline stance toward Iran since 2016. But since Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, Iran has ramped up its enrichment of uranium.
Tensions between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime culminated last January when a U.S. airstrike killed Qassim Suleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force and one of the country’s top officials. In response, Iran launched a missile strike against U.S. bases in Iraq, resulting in injuries to dozens of American soldiers.