Recent days have seen speculation that Iran purposely missed hitting members of the U.S. military when it rained 16 missiles down on two bases housing American service members in Iraq earlier this week. But the Pentagon has now debunked that narrative, saying Wednesday that Iran fully intended to kill personnel during the attacks.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley credited missile defense systems for giving troops enough warning to escape the blasts, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, is that they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel,” Milley said.
There were no injuries or deaths reported as a result of the missile strikes, though there were reports of some damage to infrastructure in the targeted areas.
Act of retaliation
The strikes were an act of retaliation for a U.S. strike that killed Iran’s top military official, Qassem Soleimani, late last week. Trump had warned Iran not to retaliate for the strike, which he said was necessary to keep Soleimani from carrying out planned attacks against Americans and others capable of killing hundreds of people.
Trump said that if Iran retaliated, the U.S. would strike 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites. But Trump also drew a red line that would have to be breached in order for him to take such action — namely, the injury or death of Americans.
Because no such harm occured, and Iran indicated it would stand down after its retaliatory strike, Trump was able to avoid having to proceed with force.
Tensions now seem to be cooling between the two nations, with Trump adding additional sanctions to those already placed on Iran after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, according to Marketwatch.
It’s too soon to tell whether these events will lead to a new nuclear deal with Iran. Earlier this week, Tehran announced that it would no longer restrict its enrichment of uranium as was required under the terms of the 2015 pact.
European nations are pushing for a new agreement, and Trump declared firmly on Wednesday that Iran would never have a nuclear weapon as long as he was president, according to USA Today.
At Iran’s current level of enrichment, it is possible that the nation could have enough uranium for such a weapon within a year. Currently, though, it has no long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States. As such, European nations, as well as Israel, face the greatest direct danger from Iranian proliferation.
While the immediate crisis may have passed, and Trump has emerged victorious, the work to be done with regard to Iran is far from complete.