“As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
This was President Trump’s promise to the world as he spoke from the White House in the wake of the Iranian missile attacks directed at U.S. forces in Iraq.
Trump declared Wednesday that Iran “appears to be standing down” adding that the attacks Iraq resulted in “no casualties.”
“The American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said, in an address to the nation from the White House the morning after the attacks. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.”
Trump indicated Wednesday that he indeed considers the nature of the strikes as a sign that Tehran has taken an off-ramp.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned,” he said.
He added: “No American or Iraqi lives were lost.”
The U.S. continues, however, to evaluate its options against the tyrannical Iranian government. Trump said that “until Iran changes its behavior,” economic sanctions would be immediately imposed. He also called on other world powers to break from the failing Iran nuclear deal while calling on NATO to increase its involvement in the Middle East.
“Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism,” Trump said, calling on the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to “recognize this reality” and “break away from the remnants” of the Obama-era nuclear pact. He suggested that the “very defective” deal “gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout.”
Trump continued to stand by his decision that began this sparked this recent conflict, saying on Wednesday that “Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood.”
The president touted the military under his administration but added: “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we need to use it. … We do not want to use it.”
Trump said, “The U.S. is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
While no U.S. or other NATO casualties were reported, the bases were potentially vulnerable.
U.S. defense officials told Fox News the U.S. military did not attempt to shoot down the ballistic missiles fired from Iran because there were no American military assets in place to intercept them.
The Patriot and Avenger anti-missile defense systems are deployed to other locations in the Middle East, but not to the two Iraqi bases targeted by Iran. Officials say the American assets are in high demand and short supply around the world.
“For the past few years, our focus was defeating ISIS and keeping a light footprint in Iraq. We did not need air defense systems against ISIS,” one official said, explaining why there were no U.S. missile defense systems in place at the Iraqi bases.
But the U.S. was prepared. U.S. military officials were warned about Iran’s pending ballistic missile strike “when the air defense systems went active,” shortly before the attack was launched, a U.S. official in Baghdad said Wednesday.
While Trump’s response is a promising sign of de-escalation, unfortunately there is still a lot of work left to be done in the region as tensions have not exactly disappeared.
After the attack Tuesday night, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that ballistic missile attacks targeting U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq Wednesday morning were “a slap in the face” to the United States.
Khamenei said the U.S. should leave the region, adding, “Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region.”