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Trump confirms more sanctions against Iran, says Tehran plane crash may have been ‘mistake’

Trump confirms more sanctions against Iran, says Tehran plane crash may have been ‘mistake’
President Donald Trump has announced fresh sanctions on Iran, a day after the Islamic Republic launched a missile attack on a pair of bases used by American troops in Iraq. Trump also called for a NATO presence in the Middle East.

Trump told reporters on Thursday that a new round of economic sanctions on Iran are “done” and will be applied pending an announcement by the Department of the Treasury.

It’s already been done... They were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially.

The sanctions – which come in addition to close to a thousand pieces of sanctions already applied since Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal) in 2018 – are Trump’s response to an Iranian missile strike on two military bases in Iraq on Wednesday. The Iranian attack was itself a response to the American assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday.

READ MORE: The US unwittingly helped create Qassem Soleimani. Then they killed him

The president also addressed the crash of the Ukrainian International Airlines plane, which hit the ground shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday, killing 176 people on board. A preliminary Iranian report suggested that the Boeing 737-800 caught fire and tried to turn around before crashing, while Ukrainian authorities are investigating whether a terrorist attack or “surface-to-air” missile brought down the airliner.

Trump stopped short of accusing Tehran, saying that he has “suspicions” that somebody could have made a mistake.”

Tehran has yet to hand over the plane’s black box, and in the meantime, the US media has reported anonymous US officials as saying the aircraft was“highly likely” brought down by Iranian air defenses. The Pentagon, however, is refusing to comment on the matter.

Also on rt.com The more we find out about Tehran plane crash, the more questions we have. Here are the main ones

The government in Tehran has said its ultimate goal is the removal of American troops from the Middle East. Trump too campaigned on bringing American forces home from foreign conflicts, but in the wake of the latest standoff, called for more NATO boots on the ground.

Trump suggested that NATO rename itself “NATOME,” with “ME” standing for ‘Middle East.’ The alliance, he suggested, could send more personnel to the region, “as opposed to us.”

We can come home...and use NATO. This is an international problem. We caught ISIS [Islamic State, IS], we did Europe a big favor.

Also on rt.com Operation Kayfabe: How Trump and Iran avoided war while both claiming victory

The president also addressed the crash of a Ukrainian International Airlines plane, which hit the ground shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday. A preliminary Iranian report suggested that the Boeing 737-800 caught fire and tried to turn around before crashing, while Ukrainian authorities are investigating whether a terrorist attack or “surface-to-air” missile brought down the airliner.

Trump stopped short of accusing Tehran, saying that he has “suspicions” that "somebody could have made a mistake.”

Tehran has yet to hand over the plane’s black box, and in the meantime, the US media has reported anonymous US officials as saying the aircraft was “highly likely” brought down by Iranian air defenses. The Pentagon, however, is refusing to comment on the matter.

Trump limited himself to saying the plane was “flying in a rough neighborhood.”

Though Trump opted not to retaliate to the Iranian missile strike with military force, tensions between the US and Iran remain high. Iranian military officials warned on Thursday of further attacks, and as Trump spoke to reporters, the House of Representatives held a vote on restricting Trump’s powers to declare war on Iran.

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