Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Trump warns Iran of ‘obliteration’

US President Donald Trump said he is willing to have discussions with Iran and does not want to go to war with the Islamic state - but he will "obliterate" it if he has to.

Mr Trump said while he was willing to open talks with Iranian officials without any preconditions, if it comes down to an armed conflict it will be "obliteration like you've never seen before".

 

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. Picture: AP
US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. Picture: AP

Fox News reports that Mr Trump said the only line he was drawing in the sand when it came to discussions with Iran was that the country could not have a nuclear weapon.

"I'm not looking for war and if there is, it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before," he said on US TV program Meet The Press.

"But I'm not looking to do that. But you can't have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years.

When they agree to that, they're going to have a wealthy country."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States' "interventionist military presence" for fanning the flames.

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Picture: AP

 

"The region is very sensitive and security of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman waterways is important to many countries. We expect international bodies to show proper reaction to the invasion move," Rouhani said about the downing of the US drone.

Mr Trump has said he called off a planned strike on Iran last week because he believed the estimated loss of life - 150 people - was "not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone."

 

Donald Trump has said that impeachment will make his chances in the 2020 election “easier”. Picture: AP
Donald Trump has said that impeachment will make his chances in the 2020 election “easier”. Picture: AP

 

"I thought about it for a second and I said, You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it. And here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.

"And I didn't like it. I didn't think it was, I didn't think it was proportionate."

The president noted that instead of a military strike, his administration plans to ratchet up the already hefty sanctions on Iran.

"We're increasing the sanctions now," he said. "The response is always going to be very strong."

Along with the sanctions, the US launched cyber-attacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network in response to the downed drone, crippling computers used to control missile launchers and a spying group tracking ships in the Gulf.

The president's openness to talk with Iran was countered his National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said Iran should not "mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness".

 

US National security adviser John Bolton. Picture: AP
US National security adviser John Bolton. Picture: AP

Mr Bolton's tough message seemed to be aimed not only at Tehran, but also at reassuring key US allies that the White House remains committed to maintaining pressure on Iran.

Mr Trump said that Mr Bolton was "absolutely a hawk," but added that he wanted "hawks" and "doves" equally represented in his administration, signalling a balance between force and diplomacy.

"If it was up to (Mr Bolton) he'd take on the whole world at one time, okay? But that doesn't matter because I want both sides," Mr Trump said.

 

Meanwhile, Iran said a "spy drone" had encroached its airspace in May about a month before it downed an American drone as part of a series of escalatory incidents between Tehran and Washington.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a map saying the US-made MQ9 Reaper drone - also widely used for carrying out military strikes - had entered his country's airspace on May 26.

Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone last week, saying it had violated its airspace near the strategic Strait of Hormuz - a claim the US denies.