President Trump addressed the nation Wednesday morning from the White House less than one day after Iranian forces launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against two military bases in Iraq early Wednesday (local time).
Delivering his remarks from the White House Grand Foyer, Trump began with a simple declarative sentence: "As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon."
"I'm pleased to inform you that the American people should be extremely grateful and happy that no Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime.
Trump went on to say that the U.S. had sustained no casualties in the attacks and only minimal damage was sustained at the military bases affected by the missile strikes. The minimal damage was "because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces and an early-warning system that worked "very well."
"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," Trump said.
The statement by Trump is the first since ordering the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. He described the military commander killed in the strike by U.S. forces last week as "the world's top terrorist."
"He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of US troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims."
Trump said recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that had killed an American contractor and wounded four others, had been directed by Soleimani, and that the general had orchestrated the "violent assault" on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
"In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him," Trump said.
During his comments Wednesday, Trump also took time to criticize the Iranian nuclear deal, calling it "very defective."
"The very defective JCPOA expires shortly, anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism," Trump said, reiterating that the U.S. would never allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. He urged other allies that had signed on with Iran to "break away" from the deal.
"We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place," he said.
The brief ten-minute statement by the president ended without him taking questions from the press.
"Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve," Trump said. "One of prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world."
The remarks were the first by Trump since he shared a tweet Tuesday night in which he wrote: "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"
CNN reports that President Trump spent part of his morning before the speech meeting with several top officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
No U.S. casualties were immediately reported, however, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed that at least 80 U.S. troopers were killed by the strike. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday's strike was a "slap in the face" of the United States.
Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, said the country's ultimate goal would be to kick all U.S. forces out of the region in response to the killed of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The general, who led Iran's elite Quds military forces, was killed on Friday in Baghdad in a drone strike ordered by President Trump. The strike was authorized by the president after intelligence sources said Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on American interests in the region.
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter that their country does not seek war with the United States after firing the ballistic missiles at the bases.
"Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense." Zarif wrote. "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a joint statement, saying they were "deeply concerned" about events in the region spiraling out of control.
“We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting ... Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region ... In light of the ballistic missile attacks by Iran against coalition military bases in Iraq on 8 January 2020, we believe that exchange of attacks and use of force by any party do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East, but rather would lead to a new cycle of instability and would eventually damage everyone’s interests."
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