Trump: 'Iran appears to be standing down' - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Trump: 'Iran appears to be standing down'

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President Trump addresses the nation about Iran on January 8, 2020. (Pool/CNN) President Trump addresses the nation about Iran on January 8, 2020. (Pool/CNN)

By Nicole Gaouette, Hamdi Alkhshali, Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr and Tamara Qiblawi, CNN

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump, facing the gravest test of his presidency, signaled a de-escalation of tensions with Iran Wednesday in the wake of Iran's retaliatory attacks against Iraqi bases housing US troops.

"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, striking a somber tone during his White House statement.

An early warning system worked well and no American or Iraqi lives were lost, Trump said.

Trump appeared to be positioning the US to de-escalate, but offered very little room for Iran to maneuver, essentially sticking to a maximalist approach and demanding that any de-escalation happen on US terms. Reading carefully from teleprompters, Trump announced that his administration would once again slap Iran with more sanctions and demanded that US allies leave the nuclear deal so a new pact can be negotiated.

The President's remarks set out no basic change from an administration strategy that has sharply ratcheted up tensions over the last year, putting the region on edge and bringing the US and Iran to the brink of war in the first days of the new year.

"The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime," Trump said, noting his administration is continuing to review other options to respond to the Iranian missile strike on Tuesday.

"These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior," he added. "In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia and shot down two American drones."

Trump seemed to keep his options open by explicitly describing American military readiness.

"Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast," he said, a warning tucked into a speech that otherwise indicated an easing of strain.

"The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it," Trump said. "We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent."

Iran fired a number of missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops Wednesday local time in retaliation for the American strike that killed a top Iranian general last week.

Ahead of Trump's remarks a growing belief emerged among administration officials that Iran deliberately missed areas populated by Americans.

Multiple administration officials told CNN that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans, but intentionally did not. Iraq did receive advance warning that the strike was coming and was able to take "necessary precautions," according to a statement from Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. A US defense official said that Iraq, in turn, gave advance warning to the United States.

Iraq's joint military command said there were no casualties among Iraqi military forces.

Iran targeted the al-Asad airbase, which houses US troops, and American and coalition forces in Erbil, according to Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesperson. Trump had visited al-Asad in December 2018.

'All is well'

Trump tweeted Tuesday night that he would make a statement Wednesday morning.

"All is well!" Trump tweeted. "Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

The administration officials who discussed Iran's targeting suggested that Tehran's leaders may have intended to send a message rather than take action significant enough to trigger a US military response, a possible indication that the White House is looking for a rationale to calm tensions.

The attack came days after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration sought to cast the strike as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has described it as an "act of war" and "state terrorism." Soleimani had been the second most powerful official in the country.

In a televised speech to Iran Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed the missile attacks and said Iran had given the US "a slap in the face last night."

He added that America had cast Soleimani as a "terrorist," which was "unjust and unfair."

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite wing of the Iranian military with immense political and economic power, said in a statement that the attacks on Iraqi bases were "hard revenge" for Soleimani's death. The IRGC said any country housing US troops could be subject to "hostile and aggressive acts" and called on American citizens to demand the administration remove US troops from the region.

It warned the US: "If you repeat your wickedness or take any additional movements or make additional aggression, we will respond with more painful and crushing responses."

Iran sent Iraq "an official verbal message" about the missile attacks shortly before midnight on Wednesday, according to a statement from Mahdi.

He said that Iraq was told that: "The strike would be limited to the whereabouts of the US military in Iraq, without giving the exact location." Iraqi military leaders were warned "to take the necessary precautions."

The prime minister said that Iraq had received no official information on losses from coalition forces.

In recent days, US bases have been on high alert due because of indications Iran might attack. A US military official told CNN the military had enough warning of the launches to sound alarms and people in harm's way were able to get to safety.

Iran warns the US

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the response was meant to be proportionate to the American attack that killed Soleimani, framing Iran's attack within international law. The top diplomat also said Iran had "concluded" its widely anticipated response Soleimani's killing.

"Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," Zarif said. "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."

The rockets pose a direct challenge to Trump, who threatened Iran on Tuesday, just hours before the attacks began.

"If Iran does anything that it shouldn't be doing, they will be suffering the consequences and very strongly," the President said.

In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani's killing, Trump repeatedly stressed that the deadly drone strike was meant to reduce violence.

"We took action last night to stop a war," he told reporters a day after the attack. "We did not take action to start a war."

After the strikes Tuesday evening, Trump met in the White House Situation Room with members of his national security team including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, and press secretary Stephanie Grisham. CIA Director Gina Haspel attended the meeting remotely.


President Donald Trump on Wednesday addressed the nation in the wake of Iran's retaliatory attacks against Iraqi bases housing US troops. A transcript of his remarks follows:

As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Good morning.

I'm pleased to inform you, the American people should be extremely grateful and happy. 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.

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. I salute the incredible skill and courage of America's men and women in uniform.

For far too long -- all the way back to 1979, to be exact -- nations have tolerated Iran's destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.

Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world's top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani.

As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities. He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.

Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four servicemembers and killed one American. And he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.

Soleimani's hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago.

By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.

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. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia, and shot down two U.S. drones.

Iran's hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013 and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying, "Thank you," to the United States, they chanted, "Death to America." In fact, they chanted "Death to America" the day the agreement was signed. Then Iran went on a terror spree funded by the money from the deal and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.

The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.

The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA, and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.

We also must make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country. Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred and war.

The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.

Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accompliments (sic) change our strategic priorities -- these are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible -- and options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.

The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration, at a cost of $2.5 trillion.

US armed forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles.

The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.

Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims and all who stood in his way. He was a monster. Al-Baghdadi was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate and failed. Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration.

ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.

Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future -- and a great future, one that you deserve, one of prosperity and home and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.

I want to thank you and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.


The-CNN-Wire
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