Trump delivered his remarks in the grand foyer of the White House.
“We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” he said.
Trump added that Iran appeared to “stand down” after the attacks, which were retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week. In his speech Wednesday, the president called Soleimani a “ruthless terrorist” who should have been “taken out long ago.”
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” he said. “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.
“For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.”
U.S. defense officials said more than a dozen Iranian ballistic missiles were fired earlier Wednesday from inside Iran toward two U.S. facilities in Erbil and al-Asad, Iraq, which housed U.S. and coalition troops.
Hours before Trump’s remarks, Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the United States the missile strikes were merely a “slap on the face” and blamed corruption in the Middle East on the continued U.S. military presence.
“What is important about confrontation is that the military action as such is not sufficient. What is important is that the seditious American presence in the region must end,” Khamenei said.
In his comments, Trump promised new sanctions for Tehran and framed the military action against Soleimani as beneficial to the national interest.
“We took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives,” the president said. “At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qassem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.
“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. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”
Trump said he would ask NATO Wednesday to become more involved in the Middle East and signaled to Iran that further provocation will bring serious consequences.
“U.S. Armed Forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast,” he said. “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it.
“We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.”