President Donald Trump warned Tuesday that an Iranian attack “on anything American” would result in a military response — just days after the White House scuttled a retaliatory strike against Tehran following the shoot-down of a U.S. surveillance drone.
“Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!” the president wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s threat came hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed the White House as “afflicted by mental retardation” following the administration’s announcement of new sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several military commanders.
Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also said Tuesday that Trump’s “fruitless sanctions on Iran’s leadership and the chief of Iranian diplomacy” would spell “the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy” between Tehran and Washington.
Trump responded on Twitter that “Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement” demonstrated that officials in Tehran “do not understand reality,” and touted the might of America’s armed forces.
“Iran leadership doesn’t understand the words ‘nice’ or ‘compassion,’ they never have. Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone,” Trump wrote online.
“The wonderful Iranian people are suffering, and for no reason at all,” the president continued. “Their leadership spends all of its money on Terror, and little on anything else. The U.S. has not forgotten Iran’s use of IED’s & EFP’s (bombs), which killed 2000 Americans, and wounded many more.”
Trump said Monday the new U.S. sanctions “will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources,” and added that the measures “represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”
The administration has blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility last Thursday for shooting down a U.S. drone because Tehran alleged it violated Iranian airspace.
Iranian officials have denied involvement in the tanker assaults, which partly destroyed the two vessels, and the U.S. military has asserted that the drone was taken down last week in “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
Trump confirmed last Friday that he called off a strike on Iran following the destruction of the drone, and said Monday that he “look[s] forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous and productive nation.”
“That can go very quickly. It can be tomorrow. It can also be in years from now. So I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office. “In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen, I can only tell that you we can not ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon. And it won’t happen.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Monday that the administration also plans to impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “later this week.”
“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” Rouhani said Tuesday, according to the AP, adding: “The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do.”