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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump slammed Iran on Tuesday, saying any Iranian attack on Americans would be met with "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration."
Trump's comments on Twitter came a day after he announced fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic in the wake of its downing of an unmanned U.S. drone last week.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the new sanctions by calling them "outrageous and idiotic" and saying the White House was suffering from a "mental illness."
Trump called that response a "very ignorant and insulting statement."
"Iran leadership doesn't understand the words "nice" or "compassion," they never have," Trump wrote. "Sadly, the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone."
In another tweet, Trump said that any Iranian attack on Americans would be met with "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration."
The latest confrontation comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran since the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018.
Last week, U.S. officials said an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down an American military surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the aircraft was over its territory. Hours later, Trump said Iran made a "very big mistake" by shooting down the spy drone.
On Thursday, he approved military strikes on Iran before calling them off, saying the attack would have been disproportionate to Iran's downing of an unmanned American surveillance drone.
"We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die," Trump wrote. "150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not [...] proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world."
The downing of the drone came a week after the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region. Four tankers were attacked in May. Iran denies involvement.
"Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month without citing specific evidence as to why Tehran was responsible. "No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets and engage in nuclear blackmail."
The Pentagon last week released declassified images showing the sustained damage from one of the oil tankers and maintained that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy was responsible.
"Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine," the Pentagon said in a June 17 statement.