President Donald Trump pulled back from the brink of war with Iran on Wednesday, saying that Tehran appeared to be “standing down” after firing missiles — without causing casualties — at US troops based in Iraq.
In a televised address to the nation from the White House, Trump emphasized there were “no Americans harmed” in the missile salvo aimed at two bases.
While he promised to immediately impose “punishing” new economic sanctions on Tehran, Trump welcomed signs the Islamic republic “appears to be standing down” in the tit-for-tat confrontation, signaling that the United States does not plan an immediate military riposte.
The comments cooled what threatened to become an uncontrolled boiling over of tensions after Trump ordered the killing last Friday of key Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
However, the US president, facing both an impeachment trial in Congress and a tough reelection in November, defended the targeting of a man seen by many as the second most influential official in the country.
Soleimani, a national hero in Iran, was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago,” Trump said.
And although Trump ended his remarks with a call for peace, he opened by stating bluntly that he would never allow Iran to procure a nuclear weapon.
He then urged European allies and other world powers to follow America’s lead in abandoning an international agreement on managing the country’s nuclear ambitions.
And finally he called for NATO to take a more prominent role in the Middle East — a point he also made in a call with the organization’s chief Jens Stoltenberg, who agreed America’s western allies could do more for “regional stability.”
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