President Donald Trump on Sunday again threatened the government of Iran, warning amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran that a military conflict would bring about “the official end” of the Middle Eastern nation.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
The New York Times reported last week that Trump was considering sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, after U.S. intelligence that suggested Iran might be planning attacks on American people and facilities in the region.
The president dismissed the report, adding he would send “a hell of a lot more troops than that” if he decided to get more aggressive with Iran.
Later Sunday, in an interview with Steve Hilton that aired on Fox News, Trump reiterated that he had no intention of letting Iran obtain nuclear weapons. “I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons — you just can’t let that happen,” he said.
The president’s tweet on Sunday is not the first time Trump has sought to intimidate Tehran via his favored social media platform. In July 2018, Trump fired off an all-caps warning to President Hassan Rouhani, cautioning him to “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Earlier Sunday, Senator Mitt Romney (Republican-Utah) expressed confidence that war with Iran would be averted.
“Going to war with Iran, not going to happen,” Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“I don’t believe for a minute that either the president or John Bolton or, frankly, anyone else in a serious senior position of leadership in the White House has any interest in going to the Middle East and going to war,” Romney continued.
“The president made it very clear that he thinks the greatest foreign policy mistake, probably in the modern age, was the decision by President [George W.] Bush to go into Iraq,” the Utah Republican said. “The idea that he would follow the same path by going after Iran, a more difficult enemy, if you will, militarily — that’s just not going to happen.”
Romney’s colleague Senator Tom Cotton (Republican-Arkansas) also downplayed the threat of military conflict with Iran in an interview Sunday.
“No one, to my knowledge, is proposing what you saw in Iraq with 150,000 troops mass to invade a country, overthrow its government and try to govern 80 million Iranians,” Cotton told the host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We’d like to see the regime change its behavior,” he continued. “But my point about the first strike and the last strike is, the United States is not going to take the first strike here. But if Iran attacks the United States or our allies in the first strike, then it will be up to America in a time and a manner of our choosing to take the last strike because our military will devastate theirs.”
When asked by Todd about the potential for Trump to meet with and negotiate directly with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Cotton demurred.
“We’re focused on trying to deter military action against the United States personnel and our allies in the region,” Cotton said. “And that’s not very fruitful conditions for sitting down with any foreign leader.”
Lawmakers will receive a briefing on Iran this week from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, CIA Director Gina Haspel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, POLITICO reported Thursday.