US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he does not want a war with Iran but warned that if fighting does break out, it “wouldn’t last very long,” even as Iran’s president tried to tamp down soaring tensions.
Trump also hinted that any conflict would be waged with air strikes, saying there would be no US boots on the ground.
His remarks came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to rein in the crisis between the two archfoes, saying that Iran “never seeks war” with the United States.
Washington has ratcheted up crippling economic sanctions on Tehran after Iranian forces shot down an unmanned US drone in the Gulf region, following a series of attacks on tankers that Washington blamed on Iran.
Trump says he called off an air strike against Iranian targets at the last minute last week, having decided the expected death toll of 100 would have been a disproportionate response.
In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump was asked if America is going to go to war with Iran.
“Well, I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen. We’re in a very strong position,” Trump said, a day after he warned that any further military action by Iran would result in an “overwhelming” US response and could result in “obliteration.”
“It wouldn’t last very long, I can tell you that. And I’m not talking boots on the ground,” he said.
Talking later with reporters outside the White House, Trump said Iran’s leaders would be “selfish and … stupid” to reject cutting a new deal with his administration to replace the 2015 nuclear accord made under his predecessor Barack Obama, which Trump himself walked out of.
That step is widely seen as the genesis of steadily declining relations between the two countries over the past year.
“They have a country that’s in economic distress. It’s an economic disaster right now, they can solve it quickly or in 10 years from now,” he said. “I have all the time in the world. In the meantime, they have very strong sanctions.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.