WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump pulled back from the brink of war with Iran on Wednesday, saying that Tehran appeared to be “standing down” after firing missiles — without causing casualties — at US troops based in Iraq.
In a televised address to the nation from the White House, Trump emphasized there were “no Americans harmed” in the ballistic missile salvo aimed at two bases.
While he promised to immediately impose “punishing” new economic sanctions on Tehran, Trump welcomed signs the Islamic republic “appears to be standing down” in the tit-for-tat confrontation.
The comments cooled what threatened to become an uncontrolled boiling over of tensions after Trump ordered the killing last Friday of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.
In New York, the Nasdaq stock market index surged to a record high of 9,129.24.
However, the US president, facing both an impeachment trial in Congress and a tough reelection in November, defended his targeting of a man seen by many as Iran s second most influential official.
Soleimani, a national hero at home, was “the world s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago,” Trump said.
And although Trump ended his remarks with a call for peace, he opened by stating that he would never allow Iran to procure a nuclear weapon.
He then urged European allies and other world powers to follow America s lead in abandoning an international agreement on managing the country s nuclear ambitions.