In an exclusive interview granted to NBC News' Meet the Press, President Donald Trump told Chuck Todd that he did not want to go to war with Iran, but if it came, they would experience "obliteration like you've never seen before."
Trump also said that he is willing to sit down to talk with Iran's leader without any preconditions, but Tehran would have to give up its nuclear weapons program.
"You can't have nuclear weapons," Trump told NBC's Chuck Todd. "And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come."
The interview came on the same day that a strike on Iran was abruptly canceled Thursday evening after a U.S. unmanned drone was shot down earlier this week.
Trump also said in the interview that he hadn't given a final go-ahead to any attack, and that planes had not yet launched before the strike was called off.
"Nothing was green lighted until the very end because things change," Trump said.
Earlier Friday morning, Trump explained his reasoning for the aborted attack in a tweet, writing that U.S. Forces had been "cocked and loaded" to strike several targets in Iran, including a set of radar and missile battery sites in Iran, but that the loss of life would not be proportionate to the downing of a drone.
"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
Tensions in the region have been increasing in recent weeks following an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the Pentagon said was perpetrated by Iran. The department released several photos of the incident which U.S. officials say proves their guilt. Tehran has denied responsibility for the attacks against the oil tankers. The Pentagon has ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the region and recently sent thousands of troops there to protect American forces in the region.
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