Trump: U.S. will use ‘over­whelm­ing force’ if Iran at­tacks

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Joshua Gallu and Ladane Nasseri

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened Iran with force­ful re­tal­i­a­tion for any at­tack on the U.S. af­ter the Is­lamic Repub­lic ruled out talks to re­solve es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions be­tween the two na­tions.

“Any at­tack by Iran on any­thing Amer­i­can will be met with great and over­whelm­ing force,” Trump said Tues­day in a tweet. “In some ar­eas, over­whelm­ing will mean oblit­er­a­tion.”

Iran ear­lier said the path to a diplo­matic so­lu­tion with the U.S. had closed af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion im­posed sanc­tions against its supreme leader and other top of­fi­cials, rais­ing ten­sions days af­ter the down­ing of an Amer­i­can drone brought the Mid­dle East to the brink of war.

Trump’s com­ments came af­ter some news out­lets re­ported that Iran’s Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion suf­fered from “men­tal re­tar­da­tion.” A more pre­cise trans­la­tion from Farsi, how­ever, would be: “The Amer­i­cans have be­come con­fused and they do strange things. Things that no wise per­son in the his­tory of pol­i­tics has done. The White House has a men­tal dis­or­der.”

Trump’s tweet in re­sponse: “Iran’s very ig­no­rant and in­sult­ing state­ment, put out to­day, only shows that they do not un­der­stand re­al­ity.”

Trump last week abruptly can­celed planned airstrikes against Iran for shoot­ing down the drone. The ad­min­is­tra­tion also blames Tehran for re­cent at­tacks on oil tankers near the Per­sian Gulf, which Iran de­nies.

“I hope they un­der­stood the mes­sage,” Trump told re­porters later Tues­day at the White House. “I de­cided not to strike — they shot down an un­manned drone.”

Ten­sions have spiked in the Gulf since May, when the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­voked waivers on the im­port of Ira­nian oil, squeez­ing its econ­omy a year af­ter the U.S. walked away from the land­mark 2015 deal meant to pre­vent the Is­lamic Repub­lic from de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear weapon. Since then, a spate of at­tacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hor­muz, a ship­ping choke­point, has raised the specter of war and pushed up oil prices.

“The fu­tile sanc­tions against the Ira­nian leader and the coun­try’s chief diplo­mat mean the per­ma­nent clo­sure of the diplo­matic path with the gov­ern­ment of the United States,” For­eign Min­istry spokesman Ab­bas Mousavi said, ac­cord­ing to the semi-of­fi­cial Ira­nian Stu­dents News Agency. “The Trump gov­ern­ment is in the process of de­stroy­ing all the es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional mech­a­nisms for main­tain­ing global peace and se­cu­rity.”

The new penal­ties are un­likely to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on a coun­try that’s al­ready in re­ces­sion due to strin­gent U.S. sanc­tions on its oil sec­tor and has been largely shut out of the global fi­nan­cial sys­tem. The U.S. has sanc­tioned more than 80% of Iran’s econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to Sec­re­tary of State Michael Pom­peo, who was in Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates this week to rally a front against Iran.

The tar­get­ing of Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei for U.S. sanc­tions on Mon­day shocked some Ira­ni­ans be­cause he’s con­sid­ered a spir­i­tual guide and a holy man by his most devoted fol­low­ers.

Trump has cou­pled his “max­i­mum pres­sure” cam­paign of sanc­tions with in­vi­ta­tions to sit down with Ira­nian lead­ers. In an in­ter­view that aired Sun­day on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the pres­i­dent said that he thinks Ira­nian lead­ers want to ne­go­ti­ate and he’s will­ing to talk with no pre­con­di­tions ex­cept that the out­come must be Iran ac­quir­ing no nu­clear weapons.

His na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, said Tues­day that Iran had an “open door” to ne­go­ti­a­tions on a re­vised nu­clear deal as he met Is­raeli and Rus­sian of­fi­cials for talks on the Ira­nian pres­ence in Syria. But he said that any talks would have to “com­pletely and ver­i­fi­ably elim­i­nate Iran’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram, its pur­suit of bal­lis­tic mis­siles de­liv­ery sys­tems, its sup­port for in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, and its other ma­lign be­hav­ior world­wide.”

MARK WIL­SON/GETTY IMAGES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signs an ex­ec­u­tive or­der im­pos­ing new sanc­tions on Iran in the Oval Of­fice at the White House on Mon­day in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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