President Donald Trump addressed the situation with Iran Wednesday morning from the Grand Foyer at the White House.
He said Iran appeared to be backing down after it fired 22 missiles, but he announced fresh sanctions on Iran and he singled out the United Kingdom as one of the members of the ailing nuclear deal, urging Boris Johnson to follow America’s lead and withdraw from the pact. Mr Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.
Watch President Trump’s statement on Iran and read the transcript below:
THE PRESIDENT: As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
Good morning. I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.
Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.
No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well. I salute the incredible skill and courage of America’s men and women in uniform.
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.
Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.
He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.
Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.
Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.
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.
In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia, and shot down two U.S. drones.
Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying “thank you” to the United States, they chanted “death to America.” In fact, they chanted “death to America” the day the agreement was signed.
Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration [the Obama administration]. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.
The very defective JCPOA* expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality. [*President Trump had withdrawn from the controversial Iran nuclear deal President Obama made in 2015 without congressional approval, bypassing Congress by calling it an executive action instead of a treaty. These other countries who had signed on with Obama did not withdraw when Trump did.]
They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal -– or JCPOA –- and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.
Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred, and war. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.
Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available.
We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.
The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration, at a cost of $2.5 trillion. U.S. Armed Forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles.
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.
Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims, and all who stood in his way. He was a monster. Al-Baghdadi was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate, and failed.
Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration. ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.
Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future — one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.
I want to thank you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
11:37 A.M. EST
Note to students: Read the questions first. Then listen to President Trump’s 9 minute address to the nation on Iran. Answer the questions as you listen. (The text is posted below the video if you would prefer to read along.)
1. What message did President Trump give to the Iranian rulers and the American people in the opening statement of his address?
2. What did the president say about the Iranian government’s aggression over the 40 years since the Islamic Revolution?
3. a) How did President Trump describe Iran’s head of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani?
b) List Soleimani’s crimes against humanity, as described by the president in his address. (see para. 7-9)
4. What message did the president say the death of Soleimani sends to terrorists?
5. a) List Iranian acts of aggression noted by President Trump – recent and also following the Iran nuclear deal of 2015.
b) The president said the U.S. is immediately imposing additional economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. For how long will the U.S. impose these sanctions?
6. How has Iran funded its terrorist acts, according to President Trump?
7. a) What did the president say Iran must do regarding its nuclear weapons program and its support for terrorism?
b) What did he say the other signers of the nuke deal and the U.S. must do?
8. What organization will the president ask to become much more involved in the Middle East Peace process?
9. The president notes our recent oil independence and American military superiority. What did he say about using our military might against Iran?
10. What final message did he have for the people and leaders of Iran?
11. Tone is the attitude a speaker takes towards a subject. The tone of a speech can be serious, solemn, sarcastic, critical, humorous, inspiring, optimistic, earnest, enthusiastic … etc.
Which word do you think best describes the tone of the president’s address on Iran? Explain your answer.
12. Iranian aggression toward America and our allies had to be confronted and addressed sooner or later. President Obama tried making a deal with several other nations and Iran with the hope that they would uphold their end of the agreement and pause their nuclear weapons program. Ask a parent (and a grandparent, if possible – as they lived through the Iranian hostage crisis): What do you think of President Trump’s policy, actions and statements about Iran? Please explain your answer.
The events leading up to the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Qassem Soleimani:
- Iraqi militant/terrorist group Kataib Hezbollah (a proxy of the Iranian government) had been firing mortars and rockets at U.S. forces at locations throughout Iraq for several months.
- In the middle of December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement warning that any rocket attacks carried out by Iran or its proxies in Iraq that harm Americans “will be answered by a decisive U.S. response”
- On December 27, Kataib Hezbollah militants (directed by Soleimani) fired more than 30 rockets at the military base in Kirkuk, Iraq, killing an American contractor and wounding four U.S. troops and several Iraqis
- On December 29, the US responded to this attack with airstrikes on Kataib Hezbollah’s weapons depots and command and control installations across Iraq and Syria, killing 25 terrorists
- On December 30-31, pro-Iranian militia members stormed the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, setting fires and causing what damage they could. Soleimani was at the U.S. embassy in Iraq with the militants as they attacked.
- On Friday, Jan. 3, Soleimani was killed when missiles fired by a U.S. military drone struck the two-vehicle convoy he was in on his way to the Baghdad International Airport
- Iran responded with severe threats and on Jan. 7 fired missiles at several Iraqi military bases. There were American military personnel at these bases. No one was injured.
- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted about Iran’s retaliation on US forces: ”Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched” and ”We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression”
- President Trump then made the Statement on Iran on Wednesday (Jan. 8)
IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM:
- Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs.
- Under the United Nations’ NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons (except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty – the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom).
- Safeguards are used to verify compliance with the Treaty through inspections conducted by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
- The IAEA issued a report on in 2008 that said Iran has repeatedly blocked an investigation into its nuclear program and the probe was deadlocked.
- The U.N. Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance. Despite the sanctions, Iran has refused to end its nuclear program.
- The Obama-led nuclear deal with Iran dropped all sanctions against the country, which were seen as the only peaceful way to force them to give up their drive for nuclear weapons
- The Iranian government has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions. It is believed that once obtained, Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel.
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