June 23 (UPI) — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he would impose new sanctions on Iran while leaving military action on the table.
Trump also told reporters he would impose more penalties against Iran with some implemented “slowly” and some “more rapidly,” before departing for Camp David, Md., on Saturday.
He added that military action against Iran is “always on the table until we get this solved.”
Trump tweeted Saturday from Camp David, Md. that “major additional sanctions” would be imposed on Iran on Monday.
Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that…..
Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview for “Meet the Press” on Friday he doesn’t want war with Iran, but “if it comes there will be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”
A day before the NBC interview the Iranian Air Force downed an unmanned U.S. made surveillance drone. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the Iranian Air Force downed the drone after it penetrated Iranian airspace in Hormozgan province, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported.
However, the United States Central Command insisted the drone was flying over international waters.
Trump initially authorized a military strike on Iran in response, but abruptly aborted the mission late Thursday after consultation with generals over concern 150 civilians would be killed.
Asked about casualties from a potential strike in response to the unmanned drone, Trump said it would be disproportionate.
“Anything is a lot when they shoot down an unmanned vehicle,” he said in pool reports.
“I thought about it for a second and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with a 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half hour after I said go ahead,” Trump told NBC News: “And I didn’t like it, I didn’t think, I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
Trump also said a plane with 38 people on board was within Iran’s sights “and they didn’t shoot it down.”
“I think they were very wise not to do that,” Trump said. “And we appreciate that they didn’t do that.”
Trump also clarified his statement on Friday where he said he called for an attack on Iran but canceled it at the last minute because there was a risk of high civilian casualties.
“I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK’ as people are incorrectly reporting, I just stopped it from going forward at this time!” Trump tweeted Saturday.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Saturday that Iran will not allow U.S. intrusion into its territory, while speaking in reference to the downing of the U.S. drone Thursday.
“Regardless of any decision they make,” referring to U.S. decision on response to downing of the drone, “we will not allow the Islamic Republic’s territory to be violated,” Mousavi told Tasnim News Agency.
Mousavi added that Iran is not seeking war, but is prepared to handle confrontation.
“We are ready to counter any threats against the (territorial) integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mousavi said. “Our decisions hinge on their decisions and we will counter any aggression whether it mingles with threats or not.”
Tensions between Iran and the United States began to escalate after the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year, saying it was “defective at its core,” and imposed sanctions to put pressure on Iran by crippling the oil economy. However, Iran said Monday it will resume enriching uranium, surpassing the limit set by the Obama-era agreement. The tensions also heightened last week after an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which the United States blames on Tehran.
“They’re not going to have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said in pool reports Saturday. “We’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon. When they agree to that, they’re going to have a wealthy country. They’re going to be happy, and I’m going to be their best friend. I hope that happens.”