President Trump announced new economic sanctions against Tehran but did not call for more military action against the Iranians during his first formal public remarks about the conflict since ordering the drone strike of Iran’s most important general last week.
“The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” Mr Trump said.
Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and other military officials, the president did little to explain his reasoning for ordering the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.
“He should have been terminated long ago,” Mr Trump said in his remarks.
On Tuesday, the Iranians retaliated by launching more than 20 ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where Americans are posted. Mr Trump said no Americans were killed.
The administration has referenced vague intelligence threats against American interests to explain the decision to kill the Iranian general. And even that was conflicting and confusing. Mr Trump was forced to walk back threats to target Iranian cultural sites after Mr Esper made clear that such actions would be a war crime.
“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Mr Trump said.
The United States already has crippling sanctions in place against Iran. In June, Mr Trump announced a new round in response to Tehran’s aggressive actions against tankers in international waters. And in the spring of 2019, the United States cut off revenues from Iranian oil exports, hitting directly at the heart of the country’s economy.