President Trump announced his administration will slap new sanctions on Iran as tensions between Washington and Tehran mount.
“Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday,” Trump tweeted Saturday.
“I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again - The sooner the better!”
Trump has long criticized of the Obama-era nuclear pact the U.S. and European allies signed with Iran, which traded sanctions relief for limits on Iran’s nuclear enrichment capabilities. The president withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018, but Iran has remained within the agreement’s bounds until recently.
Trump has long sought to use sanctions to push Iran back to the negotiating table to craft a new deal, but Tehran has expressed little interest in further talks with the Trump administration.
"I do not consider Trump as a person worth exchanging any message with," Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said earlier this month.
Trump previewed the sanctions earlier Saturday, saying previous rounds took a toll on the Iranian economy and could push the government toward talks.
"Iran right now is an economic mess. They're going through hell. The sanctions have hit them hard. More sanctions are going to be put on, a lot more. All I want is no nuclear weapons," Trump said. "We could have a deal with them very quickly if they wanted to. It's up to them."
The sanctions come amid escalating tensions that began last week after the U.S. said Iran was behind the bombings of two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The Pentagon, citing "air, naval, and ground-based threats" in the region, announced the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.
Iran responded by threatening to surpass the uranium enrichment limitations that were first implemented under the Obama-era nuclear deal.
The two sides inched closer to military confrontation this week after Iran downed an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone that the Pentagon maintains was over international waters. Tehran said the drone violated Iranian airspace.
Trump had ordered retaliatory military strikes but called off the attack after learning that as many as 150 Iranians could be killed, saying the move would have been disproportionate.
“Anything is a lot when they shoot down an unmanned [drone],” Trump told reporters Saturday.
The president also praised Iran for not shooting down a manned plane that was near the unmanned surveillance drone.
“There was a plane with 38 people yesterday. Did you see that? I think that's a big story. They had it in their sights, and they didn't shoot it down. I think they were very wise not to do that. And we appreciate that they didn't do that. I think that was a very wise decision,” Trump said.
The president is at Camp David for meetings and phone calls on the situation with Iran.