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Iran 'appears to be standing down': Trump says sanctions to remain in place after missile strikes

There were no casualties after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles in the early hours of this morning.

Image: Jacquelyn Martin

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has said Iran “must abandon” its nuclear ambitions and that sanctions will remain in place after Iran’s missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US and other foreign troops.

Speaking at the White House today, Trump said: “Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon as long as I am President”, before adding there was no loss of life in today’s missile strike.

“All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained,” he said. 

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles in the early hours of this morning, according to officials in Washington and Tehran. 

Iran said it was responding to the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week in a US drone attack outside a Baghdad airport.

Speaking today, Trump said the top Iranian General’s “hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood” and that Soleimani should have been “terminated long ago”.

“Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism,” the US President said today, and called on Europe, China, Russia to break away from 2015′s Nuclear Deal with Iran. 

Trump also called on world leaders to work on a new deal with Iran on nuclear weapons and said the United States will ask NATO to become more involved in Middle East policy. 

Following today’s strikes, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard wared it would hit back even harder if Washington responded, while Iran’s Foreign Minister said “Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence”.

Iraq Prime Minister, meanwhile, said in a statement that “Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and condemns all attacks on its land.

“The Iraqi Government continues its efforts to prevent escalation and invites all parties to exercise self-restraint,” said Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

Earlier today, foreign leaders condemned the missile attack, urging an end to the escalating crisis.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament: “Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but should instead pursue urgent de-escalation.”

Speaking in the House of Commons, Johnson also said that “Qasem Soleimani was responsible for arming the Houthis with missiles, arming Hezbollah to attack innocents, sustaining the Assad regime, and supplying improvised explosive devices to terrorists that killed and maimed British troops.

“That man had the blood of British troops on his hands.”

Hours before Iran struck, Trump said the approximate 5,200 US troops in Iraq should stay despite calls by the Iraqi parliament for their expulsion.”At some point we want to get out, but this isn’t the right point,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of expelling US troops in response to Soleimani’s killing. On Monday, a letter emerged from the head of Task Force-Iraq, US Brigadier General William Seely, that appeared to announce just such an exit.

Back in Washington, US officials denied the idea, calling the letter a mistakenly released draft or, as Trump suggested, a fake.”I don’t know anything about that letter,” Trump told reporters.

I understand it was an unsigned letter. I don’t know if that letter was a hoax, or was it unsigned or what.

Iraq’s prime minister, however, insisted yesterday that the letter had been taken seriously.”It’s not a piece of paper that fell off the printer or reached us by coincidence,” Abdel Mahdi told a televised cabinet meeting.

With reporting from Cónal Thomas

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