Washington DC, January 8: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday hinted at de-escalating tensions with Iran in his address to the nation from the Grand Foyer at White House. Trumps addressed the nation hours after Iran attacked the US military bases in Iraq. In his address, He said that Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned. Trump added that the US is ready to embrace peace. Trump also denied Tehran’s claim of killing 80 US soldiers in missile strikes on two US bases in Iraq. He also threatened to impose "tougher" sanctions against Iran. The US President said, “No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All our soldiers are safe, only minimal damages were sustained at our military bases.”
Giving a stern warning to Tehran, Trump announced that Washington would impose tougher economic sanctions. Adding further, Trump said that as long as he is the president of the US, he would not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. He said, “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.” The US President also called members of NATO to have “much more involvement in the Middle East.” He hailed the US armed forces for the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Donald Trump's Address:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 8, 2020
In the early hours of Wednesday, Iran carried out missile strikes at al-Asad and Arbil air bases in Iraq. Tehran claimed that around 80 US soldiers were killed in the attack. According to reports, Iran had fired 22 missiles at US military bases. However, moments after the attack, Trump in a tweet said, “All is Well!” Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei termed the attack as “slap in the face” of the US. Khamenei had vowed to avenge General Qaseem Soleimani’s death.
The tensions between the two nations escalated after Gen Soleimani, the head of the elite Iranian Quds Force, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3. Along with Gen Soleimani, Shia militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who heads the Ketib Hezbollah group in Iraq, was also killed. Their assassination sparked off protests across Iran, with thousands marching on the streets raising "Death to America" slogans.
The increasing tensions between both the countries are having a far-reaching effect in the region. India had appealed both the sides to exercise restraint. On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also issued a warning for Indian nationals who are planning to visit Iraq. India appealed all its citizens to call off their non-essential visits to the nation. The government also asked Indian carriers to avoid the airspace above the Persian Gulf. The MEA, in its statement, said the Indian Embassy in Iraq capital Baghdad and the Consulate based in Erbil will discharge their normal functions for now. Amid the increasing tensions in the Middle East, Air India also rerouted its flights temporarily.
According to reports, The Indian Navy has been kept on standby for emergency evacuation of Indians if the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran escalate into a wider conflict. Apart from INS Trikhand, which is currently deployed in the Gulf of Oman, the Navy is also keeping a couple of warships on full operational readiness. Iran's Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni also asked India to take peace initiative to de-escalate tensions between his country and the US.