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US-Iran tensions: Trump to impose major sanctions on Iran on Monday

Bloomberg Washington | Updated on June 23, 2019 Published on June 23, 2019

US President Donald Trump   -  REUTERS

US President Donald Trump said the US will impose major new sanctions on Iran on Monday, days after he abruptly called-off a plan for airstrikes against the Islamic Republic based on the concept of proportionality after Iran shot down a US Navy drone.

The sanctions move, announced on Twitter with no additional detail, came as Trump spent the day at the Camp David presidential retreat having meetings and phone calls. The president foreshadowed the sanctions action earlier, in remarks at the White House.

Also read: Iran shoots down US drone near Strait of Hormuz

Trump told reporters he intended to impose additional economic sanctions and that military action is always on the table until we get this solved and that if Iran’s leadership behaves badly, its going to be a very bad day for them. He also said that having the Strait of Hormuz open to shipping is less important to the US because of its large domestic oil production, and benefits China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries much more.

“Well see with Iran,” he said. “Everyone was saying I’m a warmonger and now they’re saying I’m a dove.” Instead, Trump offered, he is a man with common sense.s

Plane in their sights

“I don’t want to kill 150 Iranians unless its absolutely necessary,” said Trump, expressing a fondness for Iranian people he has known in New York. “Anything is a lot when they shoot down an unmanned drone, in terms of casualties.”

Also read: Trump scrapped Iran strikes because they were not ‘proportionate’

Trump also said that Iran had a plane in their sights, 38 people on the plane and they did not shoot it down. That was a very wise decision.

That appeared to confirm a comment on Friday by an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general that a manned US spy plane was flying near the drone on Thursday but that Iran chose not to target it. The US military’s Central Command had not previously commented on the possible manned plane.

Trump praised General Joseph Dunford, who is set to retire in October as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford was against a military strike at this point, said Trump, who called him a terrific man and a terrific general.

The only one

Regarding some of his more hawkish advisers, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump said “that having people on both sides of the debate is important but the only one that matters is me”.

Echoing the types of comments he has made about North Korea, Trump said that he hoped that he could make Iran great again over time. "Iran right now is an economic mess,” he said.

Also read: Trump says will be Iran’s ‘best friend’ if it renounces nuclear arms

Separately, Trump approved an offensive cyber strike on Thursday night that disabled Iranian computer systems used for rocket and missile launches, the Washington Post reported citing people it didnt identify. The cyberstrikes against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were carried out by US Cyber Command in coordination with US Central Command, it said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Saturday sent a series of tweets with maps designed to show that the drone downed by Iran had been flying over its territorial waters, not international waters as the US has said.

Also read: Iran warns US attack would have regional consequences

“That hand-drawn map isn’t credible,” said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, redoubling the US rhetorical hard line after Trump backed away from military action. “Iran’s leaders know the truth is a dangerous thing. It is important to correct the record,” he said on Saturday in a statement.

“The US has shown beyond any doubt that Iran shot down a US unmanned aircraft in international airspace,” Pompeo said. This attack marks the second time Iran targeted an American unmanned aircraft in recent weeks.

Published on June 23, 2019
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