Donald Trump says ‘Iran appears to be standing down’ following missile strikes

United States President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Iran “appears to be standing down” after its missile attack on U.S. targets in Iraq, and he vowed to keep up the pressure on Tehran with “punishing” new economic sanctions.

Trump said no US or Iraqi lives were lost in the attacks, and the bases suffered only minimal damage.

The attacks on the Irbil and Al Asad bases came early on Wednesday morning local time.

Iran said they were a retaliation for the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani last week.

The killing in a US drone attack was a major escalation in already deteriorating relations between Iran and the US.

Mr Trump said the US would immediately impose additional financial and economic sanctions on Iran, which would remain until it “changed its behaviour”.

The US president has previously threatened military action against Iran if it targeted US personnel and bases, but on this occasion he stopped short of this.

Calls on NATO to become more involved

In his short speech, Donald Trump, who has been scathing and mocking of NATO, called on the alliance to “get more involved in the Middle East”.

He didn’t go into further detail and went on to boast that the USA is now self-sufficient in oil and natural gas, as “the number one producer in the world”, and said: “We do not need Middle East oil.”

Trump then asserted, in warning Iran in characteristic tone, that “our missiles are big and powerful and accurate…and lethal.”

He said he didn’t want to use force, however, and said that “America’s strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.”

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