Trump says Iran will ‘never’ have nukes; puts Iraq on notice
President Donald Trump on Monday vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons as it announced the suspension of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. He had earlier threatened Iraq with sanctions if it expelled US forces, as called for by its parliament, without paying compensation for the “extraordinarily expensive” air-base built and operated there by Americans.
The President has also defended his earlier threat to attack Iranian cultural assets as reprisal for strikes from Iran carried out in retaliation against the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander, in a US drone strike outside the Baghdad international airport. Trump has come under severe criticism at home on this score.
President Trump communicated his resolve to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, in a tweet on Monday morning, a day after Tehran announced it had suspended its commitments under the nuclear deal, the six-nation Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Soleimani.
“IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!” Trump wrote, in all-caps, which he uses for emphasis or in anger. But he did not explain.
Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and snapped back sanctions in force before the signing of the agreement in 2015, and ratcheted it up several notches in a strategy to apply “maximum pressure” to force Tehran to give up its nuclear programme altogether and also abandon its ballistic missiles programme and cease “nefarious” activities in the region. The US has put out a 12-condition demand for resuming talks with Iran.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will end its final limitations in the nuclear deal, meaning the limitation in the number of centrifuge,” Iran had said in a statement about its JCPOA reversal. “Therefore Iran’s nuclear program will have no limitations in production including enrichment capacity and percentage and number of enriched uranium and research and expansion.”
Talking to reporters on his way back to Washington from holidays, he threatened to sanction Iraq after its parliament voted a non-binding resolution to expel US forces stationed there to combat the Islamic State. “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there,” he said, adding, “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
If the Iraqis insisted and did not “do it on a very friendly basis”, the president said, reeling out his sanctions threat. “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
Responding to questions about his tweet targeting Iranian cultural assets, the president said, “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”
Trump, Democrats squabble over war powers
In related developments in the United States, the president and Democrats locked horns on his authority to take military action. Trump shot off a tweet on Sunday, in which he said his “Media Posts” (tweets in other words) should be treated as his notice to Congress about any military actions he may take with regard to Iran.
Democrats dismissed it outright, and the House of Representatives, which they control, announced a vote “soon” on a resolution to curb the president’s war powers. A similar legislative measure was introduced by Democrats in the Senate, which they don’t control, last week.
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