WASHINGTON, January 8. /TASS/. Washington is introducing new additional economic sanctions against Tehran, US President Donald Trump said Wednesday addressing the nation at the White House after Iran launched missile attacks on January 8 targeting two military facilities in Iraq used by the United States.
"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. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior," Trump stressed.
"In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia and shot down two US drones," he added. At the same time, Trump claimed that "Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed."
No Americans were harmed
Trump said that US citizens were not injured in the missile strikes launched by Iran targeting military bases in Iraq while the military facilities themselves only sustained minimal damage.
"No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases," he said. "Iran appears to be standing down which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," Trump stressed.
"No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, dispersal of forces and an early warning system that worked very well," the leader added.
More active role of NATO
Trump also addressed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), asking it to get even more involved in the Middle East.
"Today, I’m going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process," he said without specifying what exactly he is expecting of NATO.
Trump recalled that in three years of his presidency, the US military expenditure increased significantly. However, Washington is not looking to flex its military muscle in the Middle East, Trump underscored.
"The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration at a cost of 2.5 trillion dollars. US Armed Forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles. The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent," he underlined.
Peace with Iran
According to Trump, the US is willing to embrace peace with Iran and is hopeful that Tehran will engage in harmonious relations with all the other countries in the world.
"To the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve. One of prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it," he underlined.
A new nuclear deal
Trump believes that Russia and other states should abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program and draft a new nuclear deal with Tehran to replace it.
The US leader announced that Iranian authorities chose to go down the path of de-escalation. "The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place," he underlined.
"We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country," Trump added.
Abandon nuclear ambitions
"The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout," the US leader believes. "Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism."
A diplomatic source in Brussels earlier told TASS that the European Union is fearing that deterioration in Iraq can lead to an ultimate collapse of the JCPOA.
The JCPOA was signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France) and Germany in 2015. Under the deal, Iran undertook to curb its nuclear activities and place them under total control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange of abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.
Iran pledged not to enrich uranium above the level of 3.67% for 15 years and maintain enriched uranium stockpiles at the level not exceeding 300 kg, as well as not to build new heavy-water reactors, not to accumulate heavy water and not to develop nuclear explosive devices.
Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 and slapped US economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. A year later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran was scaling back some of its commitments under the JCPOA and called on other signatories to the deal to comply with the conditions of the agreement within two months.
Since then, Iranian authorities have shed their commitments on a number of occasions. On Sunday, Iran announced its final step in scaling back on commitments to the deal. Tehran’s latest move means that Iran will not abide by JCPOA-set limitations on installing centrifuges to enrich uranium.
The situation around Iran exacerbated dramatically after the US launched a strike on Baghdad’s airport on January 3 killing General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force. Tehran vowed to respond harshly.
On January 8, Iran retaliated by launching missile strikes on two facilities in Iraq used by US military - Al-Asad Air Base and the airport of Erbil.