US President Donald Trump has stepped up his sabre-rattling against Iran despite calling off a military strike last week at the 11th hour.
Trump told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that the U.S. is still poised to hit Iran hard after weeks of mounting tensions between the two countries.
Although he said he is “not looking for war” with Iran, he warned of “obliteration like you’ve never seen before” if Iran resumes its efforts to build nuclear weapons.
In another interview, Vice President Mike Pence told Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that “Iran should not mistake restraint for a lack of resolve.
“All options remain on the table,” he added.
National security adviser John Bolton, in Israel for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointedly noted that Trump had “just stopped the strike from going forward … at this time” and warned that another attack could occur at any time.
Trump noted that Bolton was one of the administration’s leading “hawks.”
“If it was up to him, he’d take on the whole world at one time,” the president told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
Last week, Trump said the U.S. military was “cocked & loaded” for a retaliatory strike after Iran shot down a $120 million U.S. military drone near its coast.
The shootdown came after attacks on two tankers in the Persian Gulf, which the administration has also blamed on Iran. The president said he canceled the authorized strikes at the last minute to avoid Iranian casualties.
“Nothing is greenlighted until the very end because things change,” Trump said when Todd asked if planes were already in the air.
But when they were “about ready to go,” Trump said he asked his generals, “How many people would be killed, in this case Iranians?”
Informed there would be approximately 150 casualties, Trump said, “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 an hour after I said go ahead. And I didn’t like it … I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
Instead of military strikes, Trump today announced plans to further impose “major” sanctions on Iran, that will affect the country’s spiritual leader.