The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran, where Iran has began unloading fuel into the reactor core for the nuclear power plant on October 26, 2010, a move which brings the facility closer to generating electricity after decades of delay. AFP PHOTO/MEHR NEWS/MAJID ASGARIPOUR        (Photo credit should read MAJID ASGARIPOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images
The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran, where Iran has began unloading fuel into the reactor core for the nuclear power plant on October 26, 2010, a move which brings the facility closer to generating electricity after decades of delay. AFP PHOTO/MEHR NEWS/MAJID ASGARIPOUR (Photo credit should read MAJID ASGARIPOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:30
Here's why there's rising tension between the US and Iran
Iran's new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Vahid Salemi/AP
Iran's new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Now playing
02:28
CNN asked Iran's President-Elect about nuclear deal. Hear his reply
Now playing
02:15
See where Olympians will eat, sleep and relax in Tokyo
TABRIZ, IRAN - JUNE 16: Iran presidential candidate Ebrahim Raeesi takes part in a campaign meeting with Residents of Tabriz on June 16, 2021 in Tabriz, Iran. The country's incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, is ineligible to run again after serving two terms in office. (Photo by Meghdad Madadi ATPImages/Getty Images)
ATPImages/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
TABRIZ, IRAN - JUNE 16: Iran presidential candidate Ebrahim Raeesi takes part in a campaign meeting with Residents of Tabriz on June 16, 2021 in Tabriz, Iran. The country's incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, is ineligible to run again after serving two terms in office. (Photo by Meghdad Madadi ATPImages/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:20
Ultra-conservative candidate wins Iran's presidential election
nigeria kidnapping explainer africa Asher pkg oneworld intl ldn vpx_00021802.png
nigeria kidnapping explainer africa Asher pkg oneworld intl ldn vpx_00021802.png
Now playing
02:20
'The stuff of nightmares': Breaking down Nigeria's kidnapping epidemic
screengrab china shenzhou 12 launch
CCTV
screengrab china shenzhou 12 launch
Now playing
01:59
See Chinese rocket launch to send astronauts to its space station
Putin praises biden Geneva summit Robertson lkl intl hnk vpx_00010025.png
Putin praises biden Geneva summit Robertson lkl intl hnk vpx_00010025.png
Now playing
02:09
Hear Putin offer rare praise for President Biden
Iran presidential election Pleitgen pkg intl hnk vpx_00021422.png
Iran presidential election Pleitgen pkg intl hnk vpx_00021422.png
Now playing
02:22
Hear from Iranian voters as they head to polls in presidential election
Host TV
Now playing
07:15
'What are you so afraid of?': Journalist presses Putin on political opposition
Russian President Vladimir Putin faces questions from reporters after his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva, Switzerland.
Host TV
Russian President Vladimir Putin faces questions from reporters after his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva, Switzerland.
Now playing
04:44
Putin faces question about cyberattacks against the US
CNN's Christiane Amanpour provides analysis following a summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN
CNN's Christiane Amanpour provides analysis following a summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now playing
01:59
Amanpour: Biden did something very different than Trump
President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at the 'Villa la Grange', in Geneva, Switzerland.
Patrick Semansky/AP
President Joe Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, at the 'Villa la Grange', in Geneva, Switzerland.
Now playing
02:55
Ward describes 'uncomfortable' photo op between Biden and Putin
biden putin summit us russia press pools clash collins sot vpx_00012417.png
biden putin summit us russia press pools clash collins sot vpx_00012417.png
Now playing
01:40
Collins: 'Combative exchanges' between Russian and US press corps
Pool
Now playing
02:49
See Biden and Putin shake hands as summit begins in Geneva
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JUNE 15: Flames are seen after an Israeli air strike hit Hamas targets in Gaza City, Gaza on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
GAZA CITY, GAZA - JUNE 15: Flames are seen after an Israeli air strike hit Hamas targets in Gaza City, Gaza on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:58
Israel launches airstrikes in Gaza over incendiary balloons
China successfully launched the first module of its planned space station from the Wenchang launch site in the southern island of Hainan, according to the China National Space Administration.
CCTV
China successfully launched the first module of its planned space station from the Wenchang launch site in the southern island of Hainan, according to the China National Space Administration.
Now playing
01:04
See China's last rocket launch to send in space key component of its space station
Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump appeared to contradict his most senior security officials Monday, downplaying recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that his administration has blamed on Iran as “very minor.”

And days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration continues to consider military options for dealing with Iran, Trump dismissed the idea in an interview with Time Magazine. Asked whether he was considering military action against Tehran, the President told Time, “I wouldn’t say that. I can’t say that at all.” The President and his top US diplomat also diverged on the importance of an international shipping route crucial to the global economy.

The disconnect between Trump’s comments in the interview – in which he also warned that he would “certainly” go to war with Iran if the country develops nuclear weapons – and recent statements by Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton comes at a time of escalating military posturing between the two countries and heightened concerns about a confrontation.

Another Middle East conflict

Pompeo, speaking Tuesday after a visit to Central Command, the US military command center that oversees operations in the Middle East, said he’d coordinated with generals to make “sure we have the capability to respond If Iran makes a bad decision.”

Pompeo said he also discussed the Pentagon’s Monday announcement that the US will send 1,000 additional forces and more military resources to the Middle East, following the May deployment of a Navy strike group and a bomber task force to the region.

But over the past several weeks, Trump has maintained his skepticism about going to war with Iran in meetings with his national security team, an official said. Instead, the President has told his advisers he isn’t interested in wading into another conflict in the Middle East.

The official tells CNN that Trump’s description of Iran’s alleged attack on the Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers as “very minor” reflects his resistance to being pushed into a military conflict with Iran, particularly over vessels that were not US ships.

On Tuesday, Trump insisted his administration is prepared to confront Iran, but stopped well short of signaling any imminent military action. “We’re looking at Iran,” he told reporters at the White House. “We’re very prepared for Iran. We’ll see what happens.”

“They’ve been a nation of terror,” he continued. “Now we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens. They are a much different country today than they were two and a half years ago, when I came into office.”

Behind closed doors, Trump has also told his team that regime change should not be in the cards, a position he reiterated during a news conference in Japan at the end of May.

But Trump’s Cabinet officials have taken a series of steps that have helped propel tensions and led world leaders to call for an easing of tensions.

Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pompeo said that “the United States is considering a full range of options.” When asked if a military response was included in that set of actions, Pompeo said, “Of course.”

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s announcement about the new troop deployments came hours after the Pentagon released video footage that it said showed Iran was behind the tanker attack. The attack took place near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route that sees passage of roughly 30% of the world’s sea-borne crude oil.

Both Pompeo and Bolton have issued statements blaming Iran for the mines placed on the tankers and Trump himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News, “it was them that did it.”

’A question mark’

Tehran has categorically denied the accusations, but it has ramped up diplomatic pressure. On Monday, Iran said it would raise enrichment of low-grade uranium beyond stockpile limits set by the 2015 international nuclear deal. Officials in Tehran have said Europe must make moves to help Iran’s economy benefit or it will take further action.

At this point Trump is not overly concerned with the rhetoric coming from his team, the official said, despite his earlier frustrations that advisers such as Bolton appeared to be getting out ahead of him.

At the same time, the official said, Trump has largely given up talk of starting a diplomatic channel, believing the Iranians aren’t interested in coming to some new agreement.

A second official said Trump, while keeping a close eye on the situation, has not voiced a firm view of how he wants to proceed going forward, instead asking for options without stating what his preferred end goal might be.

In his interview with Time, Trump laid out in greater specificity what kind of provocation he believes would justify military action. “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons … and I would keep the other a question mark,” Trump said, referring to the possibility of military action to protect oil supplies.

A second source with knowledge of the situation told CNN that the administration believes Iran is targeting tankers in an effort to “impact the oil market” and provoke Trump over an issue that they know he cares a lot about.

“Their message is if we can’t move oil through these points of transit, nobody will,” the source said. Iran has “openly stated that they would interfere with oil movement,” the source said, adding that “it hasn’t had much affect.”

Speaking to Time, Trump also downplayed the importance of the Gulf of Oman, suggesting that the US doesn’t rely on the region for oil and energy as much as other countries. “We’re not in the position that we used to be in, in the Middle East,” Trump said.

That stance is likely to unsettle allies in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia, which rely on unimpeded shipping through the Gulf for their export; countries reliant on oil from the Middle East; as well as businesses, energy and insurance markets and stock exchanges the world over.