Former Obama administration officials said discussions about taking out Soleimani never reached an operational phase. Beyond the risk of escalation with Iran, officials said they were uncertain that taking the Quds leader off the battlefield would have any impact on Tehran’s regional aggression or support for terror groups.

The Obama administration also worried that killing Soleimani would undercut diplomatic efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran, according to one official. The U.S. and five other nations signed a nuclear accord with Tehran in 2015, but Trump withdrew from the pact after taking office.