President Trump has told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, according to several administration officials, in a message to his hawkish aides that an intensifying American pressure campaign against the clerical-led government in Tehran must not escalate into open conflict.
Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, came during a briefing on the rising tensions with Iran. American intelligence has indicated that Iran has placed missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf, prompting fears that Tehran may strike at United States troops and assets or those of its allies.
No new information was presented to the president at the meeting that argued for further engagement with Iran, according to a person in the room. But Mr. Trump was firm in saying he did not want a military clash with the Iranians, several officials said.