WASHINGTON D.C. – President Donald Trump on Sunday afternoon tweeted a stark warning against the government of Iran as tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump said on Twitter. “Never threaten the United States again!”
Trump’s warning came two days after Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards warned that Iranian missiles could hit US ships in the Gulf.
Earlier in May, the US government sent an aircraft carrier and fleet of bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to what the US said were signs that Iran could be preparing to attack US forces in the region.
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
The Pentagon has reportedly presented Trump with an updated plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack US forces or relaunch its bid to build a nuclear weapon.
Despite Trump’s public and social media tweets, he has privately told close advisors including Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan that he would like to avoid war with Iran, the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Tensions Mounting after Oil Tanker Attacks
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the first anniversary of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal May 28. President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would start stockpiling enriched uranium and heavy water beyond the limits agreed to in the deal and would make more serious violations if the rest of the deal’s signatories did not give Iran better terms within 60 days.
The United States increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf region soon after, accelerating deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln and dispatching B-52 bombers and Patriot defense missiles, citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran. Intelligence indicates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. government recently designated a foreign terrorist organization, loaded missiles onto boats in the Persian Gulf and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave the go-ahead to proxy forces to attack U.S. forces and diplomatic facilities, according to officials. The U.S. withdrew all nonessential personnel from Iraq last week.
Members of Congress in both parties have expressed skepticism of the threats officials have cited, and the administration plans to brief all lawmakers Tuesday. Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was circumspect after he left a classified briefing Thursday. “It’s very important that more members hear this story,” he said.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently briefed officials on a Pentagon plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked U.S. forces, according to a New York Times report. Trump dismissed the story as “fake news.”
“Now would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that,” Trump told reporters.
“Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?” a reporter shouted at Trump Thursday at a brief photo-op.
“I hope not,” the president replied.