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President Donald Trump confirmed that no Americans or Iraqis were killed in the missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq Tuesday night and that Iran appears to be “standing down.”
Late Wednesday morning, the president addressed the nation for the first time since the attacks. Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and his top military advisers, Trump called for Iran to abandon any ambitions of developing a nuclear arsenal, defended the U.S. killing last week of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and vowed to impose harsh new sanctions against the country.
The president did not call for any additional U.S. military action against Iran in response to Tuesday’s missile strikes but rather for more economic sanctions.
“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. “The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.”
Trump ordered the drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed Soleimani and several other Iranian military figures near the airport in Baghdad, and on Wednesday, he portrayed the general as a ruthless terrorist who stoked conflicts across the Middle East.
“Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood,” Trump said. The president also insisted that the Iranian general was involved with unspecified but imminent plots to attack the U.S. in the Middle East.
Since Soleimani’s death, Iranians have been in the streets protesting. On Tuesday night, Iran retaliated, as the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised he would. The country fired 20 ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were stationed, which Khamenei called a “slap in the face” to the U.S.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. and Iran appeared to be stepping back from the brink of war. The Iranian foreign minister said that Tuesday’s strikes had “concluded” its attack on the U.S. Though Trump’s remarks Wednesday were full of bellicose warnings, he said that U.S. was seeking peace.
Trump said that no Americans were harmed in the conflict, and other countries with troops stationed in Iraq alongside the U.S. — Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland — also confirmed they had suffered no casualties in the missile strikes.
Though the president has dissed NATO for years, he called for the alliance’s help addressing the rising tensions with Iran and suggested that he was willing to make a deal. But Trump also emphasized that the U.S. was prepared should the conflict escalate.
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” he added. “Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast.”
Cover image: President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing U.S. troops, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and others looks on. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)