“As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear option.” — U.S. President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump said Iran “appears to be standing down” after firing missile barrages at two different Iraqi bases housing American troops in direct retaliation for the assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said in a televised statement from the Grand Foyer of the White House, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, cabinet and military members.
Trump said he is looking at all of his options and also will hammer the Iranians with more economic sanctions.
“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said.
The president also gave a stark warning to Iran, vowing to never let Tehran achieve status as a country capable of using nuclear weapons.
He also extended somewhat of an olive branch to Tehran, saying he is open to negotiations to come up with a new Iran nuclear deal after he pulled out of the previous deal negotiated by the Obama administration.
“We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place,” Trump said.
Most importantly, Trump said no U.S. soldiers were harmed in Tuesday evening’s missile attacks aimed at the al-Asad air base in western Iraq and another base in the northern city of Erbil.
“I’m pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said. “No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces and an early warning system that worked very well.”
Trump said the new “powerful sanctions will remain in place until Iran changes its behavior.”
The Trump administration, even before the assassination of Soleimani, had been floating new, debilitating sanctions on Iran.
“There will be more sanctions to come, and Iran’s economic problems and challenges are going to compound in 2020,” a senior State Department official said in a call with reporters on Dec. 30. “They are already deep into a recession, and we are also seeing Iran come under greater diplomatic isolation.”
An official speaking on the condition of anonymity also told CNBC the administration has sanctioned about 1,000 individuals and entities linked to the Iranian regime.
“What we are doing is denying the regime the revenue that it needs to run an expansionist foreign policy, and by that policy, Iran has less money to spend today than it did almost three years ago when we came into office,” the official said, according to CNBC.