The Standoff With Iran
From the New York Times. I'm Michael Barbaro. This is the day. Today. The Trump administration is debating a military strike against Iraq as tensions between the two countries reach an all time high. How got? It's Friday, June twenty-first. To all tankers have been ambushed in the Gulf of on the US placing the blame firmly on Iran. Iran says it will break the uranium stockpile limit that was set by the twenty fifteen Tehran nuclear deal. Just moments ago, the Pentagon authorizing additional one thousand American troops in the Middle East. People are going to the Middle East right now in response to growing concerns over Iran. President says time is running out for European leaders to say the two thousand fifteen nuclear deal in American drone was shot down in international airspace, by Iranian missile over the stated for moves. So Charlie does this bring us do you think closer to a wider conflict now, do not want a war, but they're ready for one and invading Iranian airspaces? They say was crossing a red line. There's any more disruption shipping and the streets of hormones linked to Iran take out their navy their refineries if there's any more attack on American interest graph to the uranium. So they'll pay pain. Mark. There's been a lot of news coming out of a Ron over the last week or so. And it feels like things have been escalating very fast, and then it all sort of started with those two tankers in the Gulf last Wednesday. Yeah, that's right. Michael, these very dramatic vivid pictures, began circulating of a Japanese and Norwegian tanker adrift in the Gulf of Oman, with huge flames and smoke billowing from their sides. Mark Lander covers the White House for the times. And so your first reaction you see these pictures as my God. You know what does this mean it's true act of hostility, and then the plot, you know, rapidly thickened as the United States accused Iran of being the culprit for these explosions. Good afternoon. It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran, responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Amman today. Mike Pompeo took the podium at the State Department, backed by these very dramatic pictures of the burning tankers. And he and essence said that the US had incontrovertible proof that Iran was behind the attack this assessment is based on intelligence. The weapons used the level of expertise needed to execute the operation recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication and what he produced was military footage that showed a small Ronnie, and boat coming around to the side of one of these stricken, tanker's, and people standing on this little boat, removing what's called a limpet mine, which is a small mine, that had been affixed to the side of the ship. Presumably, this was an unexploded mine. Several of the other minds did explode, which is what caused all the flames and smoke. It's unmistakable what happened here these were. Taxed by Republican Veron on commercial shipping on the freedom of navigation with the clear intent tonight transit through the strait. This was on the Gulf of Oman, much of the world's oil supply passes through the straits of Hormuz. So this is Iran, signalling to the United States, and the world. We can interrupt this critical waterway, we can stop the supply of oil, so on two different levels, both economic, and as an attack on American allies, it was viewed by Pompeii on the administration as a very provocative act, taking a whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat, international peace and security of lateness alt- on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension. But Ron and so what is the response to this accusation from Mike Pompeo? Diva become his this leash uncool. It's my tongue growth minds and also well, interestingly, a lot of skepticism, nor any sinus, I'm blessed factories, who powerful. No Muffin to all those few into the Europeans initially responded by saying it's too soon. We're not sure it's too soon to say, Ron is guilty of this. You heard the misgivings of Germany's foreign minister. What do you make of this video that we've all seen for those handed out by the Pentagon? I don't believe it's the smoking gun. It's a it's not quite clear yet. So to some extent, there was a credibility gap on the part of the United States. The US had presented this footage. And even with this footage as evidence countries were not willing to say you're right Iran was behind it. It's logical if you wish, but we're still missing the said this mocking gun to rebuild, the, the concrete prove the reunions behind the two attacks. And instead. They all held back. They all withheld judgement. It really was a very, very vivid demonstration of how much trust has been lost between the US and its allies, that you didn't see the Germans, the French the Brits immediately step up and say, well, of course, the Iranians did at the US has shown us proof of it. And the idea is that the US might be doing what exactly if you're a skeptic if you're one of our allies in Europe, what would blaming Iran for this accomplish. That makes them so skeptical. I think the really cynical take if you're in Europe is that the Trump administration has been spoiling for a fight with Iranians from the moment. President Trump came into office President Trump announcing that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. And in a way, the root of this was laid a year ago when President Trump pulled out of the Iran, nuclear deal for Donald Trump is to reinstate US sanctions on grown. Lifted as part of the twenty fifteen nuclear deal sanctions, that'll be reimposed are the toughest sanctions ever put in place on the Republic of Iran. Their state Mike Pompeo has announced that the US has designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terror group will take place on the same list as terror groups. It supports all of which are already designated as foreign terrorist organizations. And pointing the finger at Iran for this provocative, act could give the White House, the pretext for some kind of military response. If you're looking for fight with the Iranians, what better way to precipitate it than to say you guys are responsible for this act, Mark just to clarify one point, assuming Iran did attack tankers. Why would it have done it if the situation is so fragile right now? And the US is looking for amunition, why would Iran suddenly blow up some tankers? What would that accomplish in terms of mood evading? The people who remain in the deal to somehow start acting in Iran's interest. I think because it is such a vivid demonstration of Iran's capacity to disrupt the world's oil supply, it sends this unmistakable message to the Europeans who remain in the nuclear deal that you guys need to team up and figure out how to restrain the United States, how to make the case to Washington, make the case to the Trump administration that they just can't act with impunity toward her on that there is a price for them continuing to squeeze Iran's economy, hurting the Iranian people. The argument here is that the Europeans have to come off the sidelines. They can't just allow Donald Trump to act with complete freedom in this. They have to make their voices heard and try to calm this situation down, and in deal world after these tankers are attacked what do the euro. Qian countries in their leaders do relative to the US that would satisfy Ron goal. I think they would make the case to the United States that look, you know, we know that you hate the Iran nuclear deal. We know your goal is to pressure the Iranian regime, but you can't pressure them to such a degree that they feel compelled to lash out in a way that really threatens not just the security of the Gulf, but the entire world economy because that's the implication, that this single act really had, which is that we can throw the world oil supply into turmoil. That's something that raises the economic cost far beyond the region itself. It turns it into a global economic issue, and that presumably is the case. The Europeans could make to the Trump administration. Where things stand earlier this week, the US has accused Iran of attacking these tankers are Ron has denied it are use thinking at this point. Well, I'm thinking that the tensions are just spiraling up by the day. You're seeing ever stronger words from my compo from the president himself. You're seeing ever stronger denials counter-accusations from the Iranians, you're seeing the president start to take some concrete steps, deploying additional troops to the region. So the question in everyone's mind is, is this merely an exercise in bellicose rhetoric? Is it merely a war of words? Or are we actually on the brink of some kind of military conflict? And I think we got at least an early answer to this on Wednesday night. We'll be right back. At the daily the headline is just the beginning. It's like how it ADP payroll is just the beginning because well ADP as one in six US workers. They also offer industry leading HR, talent time management benefits and more. In fact, whatever it is you and your employees are working for chances are ADP is designing a better way to help you cheat. It ADP always designing for people Andy mills. And I am one of those names that you hear in the increments of the daily every single day I get to work with reporters who are covering things from the conflict in Syria. Enough ghanistan to the fires in California to Fred Trump's taxes to the latest news with Facebook to the Ruhango crisis. None of that, work that I do none of the work that they do would be possible without. Subscribers. And this is an ad trying to tell you that subscribing to the New York Times is worth it. If you are a subscriber, thank you. If you'd like to become a subscriber Goto NY times dot com slash worth. It. So Mark, what happened on Wednesday night, well around seven thirty pm Washington time in the predawn hours in the Persian Gulf. Iran state news agency is reporting the country's revolutionary guard has shot down, what it says is a US drone, Iran fired a surface-to-air missile at an unmanned American surveillance drone. The news was related by state media, which reported the eb on object was a Global Hawk surveillance drone, essentially, blew the drone out of the Scott afternoon. This is Tim general Joseph fossil commander US air forces central command prepared to give a statement, but I won't be answering questions at this time. And this led to an immediate dispute between the Iranians and the United States, where the two sides, disagree is where the germ was flying at the time the American said the drums flying over international waters, and this amounted to a pure act of aggression against an American asset Tehran counters at the drone was destroyed after violated Iranian airspace. Iranians accused drone. On of being over Iranian territory. Iranian reports that this aircraft was shot down over Iran are categorically false. Now, this was as I said an unmanned drone, so there were no American casualties. But it nevertheless elevated this whole conflict to another much more dangerous love. Escalatory attack was responsible possibly endangering innocent civilians. Thank you. So where are we now? What is the current status of things? Go ahead question. Well for starters, President Trump delivered a somewhat confusing statement to reporters at his meeting on Thursday with prime minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. He opened by saying mistake, Iran just made a very bad mistake. And when reporters said, what are you going to do about it? He answered kind of ominously you'll find out you'll find so from that one might judge that we are, in fact, on the brink of some kind of military response. But interestingly, as the reporters kept asking the president questions, you heard a slightly different narrative emerge he went on to say. I don't know. I find it hard to believe. It was intentional. If you wanna know the truth, I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid. He's speaking of Iran's decision to take out the drone, but I have a feeling I may be wrong, and I may be right, but I'm right on that. I have a feeling that it was a mistake made by somebody that shouldn't have been doing what they did. So you almost have this picture of president searching for a way out rather than blame it squarely on the Iranian government. He seems to be letting the government off the hook by saying, well, maybe it was just a, you know, some stupid general or someone who overstep, their thority or who acted recklessly. I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down on the one hand he's speaking in very tough terms. And on the other hand, he's allowing kind of an escape hatch that maybe. This was a mistake on their part and hence not a reason to take the pivotal nextstep some kind of military response. Let's just see what happens just let's see what happens. It's all to work out. And what might that be about this escape hatch, why suddenly be generous toward Iran, while I think this goes to the tension, that has always existed within President Trump. Remember, this is the president who with the North Koreans promised to rain fire and fury down on them. But then open the door to this breakthrough summit with Kim Jong so you have this president who likes tough talk, but does not like being dragged into major military action. And I think with Iran, as with North Korea, you're watching this tension unfold in real time he wants to send an unmistakable message to Iran, but I think he doesn't wanna close off all his options. So he really does have to start some kind of major military operation, but this is something. This is a new wrinkle. This is a new fly in the -ment. What happened shooting down the drone and this country will not stand for that. I can tell you, thank you. Very much. What will does Europe play in this moment, if the purpose of attacking those tankers, and everything that seems to have followed was to draw Europeans out and to get their attention? Will, I think what Europe will try to do is, is say to the president? Look your strategy of pressuring Iran has succeeded, perhaps more than anyone expected. But plunging the Middle East into yet. Another war would be disastrous for the world economy. And I think likewise, they will probably pressure the Iranians and say, look, you can't continue to provoke the US without precipitating. Some kind of response. That's more than you expected, or bargain for you guys need to show restraint too, because if you don't the outcome for you will be far worse than just the economic pain you're suffering today. Mark, how has it succeeded? If we're in this tense moment in what way could we look at this and say that the pressure has succeeded. Well. I when I say, succeeded what I meant was that these sanctions that President Trump imposed we're really designed in some sense to push on to the brink economically but also politically, and I think that Iran's provocations over the past week show, just how far the United States has gone in this. They have truly crippled Iranian economy. They have driven down Iran's oil exports, and they have made Iran's leadership, desperate enough that they feel they have to lash out in this way to try to push back on the American pressure. So from that perspective, this pressure campaign has actually succeeded. The big question is, what is the resolution to all this tension? What is the outcome? That's in the American interest. And that is a far more questionable issue. Right. What happens when Iran actually does get to the brink have is this possibly end? Well, well, I think the big. Question ask about the Trump administration strategy and it's one that the administration itself finds difficult to answer is what's the end game? What is it that you're trying to achieve the administration would say, we want Iran to behave quote, like a normal country will so far everything? The United States has done has only emboldened, Ron to behave even more like a bad actor, even more like a mouse factor in the region. It's in fact, driven Iran in the opposite direction, rather than making a Ron more moderate less inclined intervene in the affairs of countries in the region less of an export or of state sponsor terrorism. It's making Iran and even worse player. And so for the moment at least the end game seems very far off, and we seem to be in the part of the drama where Iran really behaves, even more badly. In other words, it's making wrong more dangerous. Yes. It's bringing out the worst in Iran, right? So I ask again if. Ron his only getting more dangerous and his actions less and less normal. How does it end? Well, well, one way it could end. Well, and President Trump himself has raised this prospect is they come back to the bargaining table. They sit down and go, she ate, what he would claim is a better stronger more airtight, nuclear deal. But that's if you believe that, that is the true objective of American policy. You have around the president a series of advisers, who are plainly more hawkish than he is, whether it's the secretary of state Pompeo, whether it's the national security adviser, John Bolton. These are people who are to some extent itching for some kind of a fight, if the real objective, unstated is collapsing, the Iranian regime, which certainly some in the White House believe then it's hard to see how this ends in anything other than some kind of conflict. Thank you. Thank you very much. Michael. On Thursday night. The times reported that President Trump had approved a series of air strikes against Iran in retaliation for the attack against a US drone, but he then abruptly pulled back on launching the strikes. It was unclear whether the president changed his mind or altered, course because of the gist IX or strategy. The airstrikes could still be launched in the coming days. We'll be right back. Mike, Bloomberg believes, if you can't measure, it, you can't manage it, and it's a belief that drives the work of his foundation. Bloomberg philanthropies follow the data a podcast from Bloomberg. Philanthropies tells the story behind the numbers exploring, how they use data to fight big tobacco. The opioid epidemic gun violence climate change, and even illegal fishing. Join the conversation each episode featuring practitioners and thought leaders from around the world. Subscribe to follow the data wherever you get your podcast. Here's what else you need to know today. I've been on this lower live standing up perforance in Saudi Arabia, which is not always been easy to do, but the days of trading Saudi Arabia the way, I used to treat them or over on Thursday. The Senate voted to block, President Trump from selling billions of dollars of US arms to Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in my partisan rebuke of the White House. The president has invoked emergency powers to justify the sales without the consent of congress, saying, both countries need the weapons to fight Iran, but on Thursday, senators expressed alarm over the decision to work around them and objected to the countries receiving the arms, especially Saudi Arabia when you have direct evidence. And when you're our own intelligence community has concluded that there is high confidence that. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Butchered, a dissident with a bone saw in a consulate in a foreign country. You would think that would give us Paul's as to giving Saudi Arabia, or selling Saudi Arabia more weapons. His expected to pass the scene legislation, but the president has vowed to veto and neither chamber is expected to override it. And we recognized that because of the acts of you and I say a few relative to the total number of officers in the police department that in many ways, you know, we understand how this can tarnish or did tourney reputation Philadelphia police department has pulled seventy two officers from the streets and Saint Louis said, it would no longer prosecute cases from twenty two of its officers after the revelation of bigoted social media posts by the officers, we are equally disgusted by many of the posts that you saw, and that in many cases, the rest of the nation. Saw, not just people, Philadelphia, the social media, posts or compiled by researchers into a database and included racist and Islam phobic material, as well as praise of officers who use excessive force. And so we will not be shy about meeting out the appropriate discipline which. Good range from in many cases a day or so off all the way up to terminate which is probably something that's gonna certainly happen for some of these. The daily is made by feel welcome. Andy mills. Lisa Tobin way chill Wester Lindsey garrison any Brown. Claire, tennis koetter page coward. Michael, Simon Johnson. Brad Fischer LaRussa Anderson, Wendy door. Chris would Jessica Chung Alexandra young Jonathan wolf. Lisa channel, Eric Kripke Mark. George Luke Vander blue a Diese Egan Kelly prime Julia longoria Sindhu, neon someone and jasmine era. Our theme music is by Jim Brun, Berg, and Ben lands for of Wunderle special. Thanks to Samuel MC McCabe. Chard Stella tempt, Julia Simon Anne Kearney and my offer book. That's it for the daily. I'm Michael borrow. See on Monday.