On Friday, ABC Australia reported that the U.S. would launch a missile attack on Iran as early as next month. The report stemmed from President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s tweet.
The Australian ABC report quoted statements from senior government officials in the Malcolm Turnbull administration whose names were not identified. The officials said Australia believed that Washington was preparing a plan to bomb Iran as early as next month. ABC also reported that Australia’s secret military base Pine Gap in the Northern Territory of Australia and the country’s other defense facilities would play a significant role in identifying target objects.
Following the report, both Washington and Canberra dismissed the allegations of the U.S.’ plans to bomb Iran.
Pentagon chief James Mattis flatly denied the U.S. is planning to bomb Iran and wondered how ABC obtained the information and from which sources.
“I have no idea where the Australian news people got that information. I’m confident it is not something that’s being considered right now, and I think it’s complete — frankly, it’s — it’s fiction”, Mattis told the press.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull echoed the statement, referencing the fact that the Australian media outlets were relying on “anonymous sources” and also said the bombing plan was just “speculation.”
“President Trump has made his views very clear to the whole world, but this story … has not benefited from any consultation with me, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister or the Chief of the Defence Force,” Turnball said.
Australia is part of the UKUSA multilateral agreement, a deal promoting the cooperation of intelligence between the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand and Canada. The agreement is also known as the “Five-Eyes” agreement.
War of Tweets between Trump and Rouhani
Last week, Rouhani told Washington not to fuel tension with Tehran, saying that a clash with the Islamic Republic would be the “mother of all wars.”
Trump retaliated by saying Iran would face severe consequences if it triggered a war with the U.S.
“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!,” tweeted Trump.
Then, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif sent a mocking tweet saying Washington’s threat had no impact at all and Iranians were unimpressed. Zarif also called the eccentric real estate mogul’s behavior as “erratic and dangerous.”
“COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”, Zarif said in his tweet.
U.S.-Iran ties have been deteriorating since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, citing the Obama era’s pact as “embarrassing.” Under the agreement, Iran was required to reduce its uranium stockpile up to 98 percent. As a reward, economic sanctions imposed on the country were revoked.
Trump accused Iran of being dishonest about its nuclear ambition, supporting terrorist groups, and triggering hostilities in the Middle East. Last week, Iran filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice against the U.S, demanding Washington to lift the sanctions it announced it would reinstate after pulling out of the Iran deal.
If a War Really Broke Out, How Scary Could it Be?
On paper, after comparing both countries’ militaries, the U.S. would beat Iran easily if a war were to occur. Washington allocates $554.2 billion for its military spending, while Iran only spends $12.3 billion on its defense.
The scariest factor is that the U.S. possesses 7,200 nuclear warheads which are ten times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
What would be most concerning is the potential for Russia to interfere should a war break out, given Moscow is one of Tehran’s closest allies. A war in the middle east has the potential, of course, to engage multiple countries throughout the region.
Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne speaking in regards to Trumps threats against Iran warned, “Certainly President Trump has indicated that he’s a person who’s prepared to act in a way that previous presidents haven’t.