Gen. Mark Milley reportedly warned Trump not to strike Iran: ‘You’re gonna have a f—ing war’

Trump, Gen. Milley
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Army General Mark Milley looks on after a briefing from senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House on October 7, 2019 in Washington, DC.

  • Gen. Mark Milley reportedly warned Trump not to take military action against Iran.
  • Milley told Trump “you’re gonna have a f—ing war” with Iran if the US striked, per a new book.
  • The book by the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser and NYT’s Peter Baker comes out next year.
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Top US Gen. Mark Milley feared that former President Donald Trump would take military action against Iran at the end of his presidency and repeatedly warned him not to, according to reporting for an upcoming book on the Trump presidency published in the New Yorker on Friday.

“If you do this, you’re gonna have a f—ing war,” Milley reportedly told the former president and his foreign policy advisors, who had pushed for a missile strike on the Middle Eastern country after Trump lost the 2020 election.

The topic of Iran was frequently raised in White House meetings in the months following the race, with Trump “seemingly willing to do anything to stay in power,” according to a co-author of the book, The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser. Correspondingly, the New York Times in late November reported that Trump consulted top advisors – including Milley – about potential options for striking Iran’s primary nuclear site and was ultimately talked out of it.

At one meeting in which Trump was not present, his advisors had again brought up taking action against Iran. Milley questioned “why they were so intent on attacking the country,” Glasser reports.

“Because they are evil,” then-Vice President Mike Pence reportedly answered.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, eventually helped end the prospects of a potential conflict with Iran, per the book.

On January 3, Glasser reports Trump had held an Oval Office meeting to receive an update on Iran’s latest nuclear activities. Milley, along with then-national security advisor Robert O’Brien and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, each informed Trump that any military action against Iran would be impossible at this point.

Trump appeared to heed the warnings, and the focus on Iran faded out, per the book.

The book is slated to come out next year and is co-authored by Glasser and her husband, The New York Times’ Peter Baker. The pair conducted nearly 200 interviews for their reporting on Trump’s time in the White House, according to Glasser.

The US and Iran have been adversaries for decades, dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis at the US Embassy that began the same year, but tensions reached historic heights under Trump.

Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was at heart of animosity. His administration employed a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, vying to cripple the Iranian economy via harsh sanctions in the hopes of eventually negotiating a more stringent version of the nuclear pact.

The Trump administration’s strategy did not work. Iran instead took gradual steps away from the 2015 deal, which was designed to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Meanwhile, a series of skirmishes in the Persian Gulf involving attacks on oil tankers, which the US blamed on Iran, raised concerns of a new conflict in the region.

In January 2020, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. The strike pushed the US and Iran to the brink of war, prompting a retaliatory missile attack on US troops in Iraq that left dozens injured. Both sides ultimately stepped away from a broader conflict, but the heightened tensions between the US and Iran have continued into the Biden era.

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Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency in a vote with low turnout, calls for a boycott

PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO PROVIDED BY IRANIAN PRESIDENCY OFFICE.
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, left, speaks with the media after his meeting with President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, right, Saturday, June 19, 2021.

  • Initial results showed hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest.
  • Raisi dominated only after a panel under watch by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified strong competition.
  • Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott of the vote.
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory Saturday, propelling the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Initial results showed Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest, dwarfing those of the race’s sole moderate candidate. However, Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition.

His candidacy, and the sense the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters in the Islamic Republic, which has held up turnout as a sign of support for the theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott.

In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

Raisi’s blowout win came amid boycott calls and widespread voter apathy

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country – as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2 a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the US government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary – one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the US and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades – the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

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Iran calls blackout at underground atomic facility ‘nuclear terrorism.’ Israeli outlets blame an Israeli cyberattack.

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, centrifuge Natanz uranium enrichment facility
This file photo released Nov. 5, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. The facility lost power Sunday, April 11, 2021, just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium faster, the latest incident to strike the site amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers. Iran on Sunday described the blackout an act of “nuclear terrorism,” raising regional tensions.

  • Iran blames a Sunday blackout at a nuclear facility on “nuclear terrorism.”
  • The country hasn’t assigned blame, but Israeli media has reported an Israeli cyberattack is responsible.
  • The attack comes as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, described a Sunday morning blackout at its Natanz uranium enrichment facility as an act of “nuclear terrorism.” The country fell short of assigning blame for the blackout, which occurred while negotiations continue between Iran and US-aligned nations over reinstating the nuclear deal.

Multiple Israeli media outlets, including Haaretz, claimed that the blackout was caused by an Israeli cyberattack on the eve of Israel’s independence day. On Sunday night, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to security chiefs, such as Mossad head, Yossi Cohen, asking them to “continue in this direction, and to continue to keep the sword of David in your hands.”

If Israel is responsible, the act threatens to continue to heighten regional tensions between Iran and America’s ally. Netanyahu also met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday along with his Dfeense Minister, Benny Gantz.

The blackout came hours after the facility began to operate new centrifuges that can enrich uranium more quickly.

Salehi did not expand on how the blackouts had affected the atomic facility but said that the country plans to “seriously improve” its nuclear technology while trying to also lift international sanctions. Nuclear spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi told Iranian state television that “there was no casualty or damage and there is no particular contamination or problem”

Iran’s nuclear program has seen many previous acts of international sabotage. In July,the Natanz plant experienced a mysterious explosion, and in November, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun. Iran blames Israel for both and is now building a new facility underground, which was targeted in Sunday’s attack.

In 2010, the facility was attacked by the Stuxnet computer virus, destroying centrifuges at the Natanz plant. The virus is widely considered to be created by the US and Israel.

Israeli media reports, such as public broadcaster Kan, said that “experts” assume that Sunday’s attack shut down much of the facility. The reports did not cite their sources for the information.

After the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has stopped following formal limits on its uranium stockpile, now enriching up to 20% purity. This is still below the 90% purity needed to build weapons.

Iran has long maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Earlier this week, an Iranian cargo ship that was connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard off the coast of Yemen was hit by an explosion. Iran has blamed Israel for the blast, which occurred in a hot zone near the conflict between Saudi Arabian forces and the Iranian- aligned Houthis in Yemen. The Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli cover operations are responsible for over a dozen oil tanker attacks in recent years.

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The US had a plan in the 1960s to blast an alternative Suez Canal through Israel using 520 nuclear bombs

Israel canal plan
An annotated map of Egypt and Israel shows the placement of the existing Suez Canal and an approximation of plans for a canal through Israel discussed by the US in the 1960s.

  • A declassified memorandum reveals a 1963 US plan to create an alternative to the Suez Canal.
  • It would have excavated more than 160 miles through Israel’s Negev desert with nuclear bombs.
  • A cargo ship is currently stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking the vital shipping route.
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The US had plans to use 520 nuclear bombs to carve out an alternative to the Suez Canal though Israel in the 1960s, according to a declassified memorandum.

The plan never came into a fruition, but having an alternative waterway to the Suez Canal could have been useful today, with a cargo ship stuck in the narrow path and blocking one of the world’s most vital shipping routes.

According to the 1963 memorandum, which was declassified in 1996, the plan would have relied on 520 nuclear bombs to carve out the waterway. The memo called for the “use of nuclear explosives for excavation of Dead Sea canal across the Negev desert.”

The historian Alex Wellerstein tweeted that the plan would have been a “model proposal for the Suez Canal situation.”

The memorandum was from the US Department of Energy-backed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

It suggested that an “interesting application of nuclear excavation would be a sea-level canal 160 miles long across Israel.”

Conventional methods of excavation would be “prohibitively expensive,” the memo said. “It appears that nuclear explosives could be profitably applied to this situation.”

It said, however, that “such a canal would be strategically valuable alternative to the present Suez Canal and would probably contribute greatly to economic development.”

As part of the pricing model, the memorandum estimated that four 2-megaton devices would be needed for every mile, which Wellerstein calculated as meaning “520 nukes” or “1.04 [gigatons] of explosives,” he tweeted.

One possible route proposed by the memorandum stretched across the Negev Desert in Israel, connecting the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, opening an access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The laboratory noted that there were 130 miles of “virtually unpopulated desert wasteland, and are thus amenable to nuclear excavation methods.”

This “crude preliminary investigation suggests that using a bomb to create a canal through Israel “appears to be within the range of technological feasibility,” the memo said.

But the memo conceived that one problem, which the authors had not taken into consideration, might be “political feasibility, as it is likely that the Arab countries surrounding Israel would strongly object to the construction of such a canal.”

The memo came as the US Atomic Energy Commission was investigating using “peaceful nuclear explosions” (PNEs) to dig out useful infrastructure, Forbes reported in 2018. There were also plans to use this method to dig out a canal in Central America, Forbes reported.

But the PNE project remained experimental, after the US found that 27 experiments with PNEs heavily irradiated the landscape. The Atomic Energy Commission was also abolished in 1974.

Meanwhile, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory still exists. According to its website, it is dedicated to “ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.”

The 1963 memorandum had also came less then a decade after the Suez crisis, a conflict for the control of the strategic waterway which was a defining event in the Cold War.

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