President Trump said Wednesday the U.S. will go after the Iranian economy, which is already under strain, following missile attacks launched by the rogue regime on military bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq on Tuesday.
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“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,” Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House. “These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”
Trump also said the U.S. will never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and that he plans to ask NATO to become more involved in the Middle East.
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” Trump said. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
A number of experts had predicted Tuesday evening on FOX Business that Trump would pursue tighter sanctions as the first option against Iran.
While sanctions have so far failed to bring Iranian leadership to the negotiating table, they have caused the country’s economy to suffer.
Moody’s economist John Lonski noted that Iran is not exporting much oil, “if any”, as a result of sanctions already in place. Tightened sanctions, he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney, will “make matters worse for the Iranian economy.”
According to the Tehran Times, as of August, inflation in the country had risen 41.6 percent year over year. The International Monetary Fund said in October that it expected Iran’s economy would shrink by 9.5 percent in 2019, amid tighter U.S. sanctions. Unemployment, especially among youths, is also sky-high at 10.6 percent, as tracked by Trading Economics.
Sanctions have cut funding to Hezbollah and Hamas, Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott said.
Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Sanctions in place have focused on strangling the country’s oil industry – largely considered the lifeblood of its economy. The sanctions have scared off a lot of international business as well.
The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that Iran launched more than 12 ballistic missiles at bases in Iraq where American troops are based. No Americans were harmed during the attacks and only “minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” Trump said Wednesday.
The missile attacks were said to be retaliation after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian military official last week.
Iran’s Supreme Leader warned on Friday that a “harsh retaliation” was in store following the airstrike, which killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, a wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Soleimani was first designated as a terrorist by the U.S. in 2005.
On Wednesday, Trump reiterated the threat Soleimani posed to America.
The Department of Defense said the action was taken at the direction of the president and in order to protect U.S. personnel abroad by deterring future attack plans. According to the government, Soleimani was developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in the region. He was previously behind other attacks on bases in Iraq throughout recent months.