(CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday issuing what he described as “hard-hitting sanctions” against Iran.
“In a few moments, I’ll be signing an executive order imposing hard-hitting sanctions on the supreme leader of Iran and the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran and many others. Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
“You shot down the drone. It’s—I guess everyone saw that one, and many other things and done many other things. Aside from the individual drone, you saw the tankers, and we know of other things that were done also, which were not good and not appropriate,” he said.
The president said the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is ultimately “responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime.”
“He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I’m about to sign will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared from the sanctions,” Trump said.
The sanctions “represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” the president said, and he promised to continue to apply pressure on Tehran “until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement in and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts, and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.”
Trump criticized the nuclear deal signed by former President Barack Obama, calling it “a disaster.”
“It was not doing what it was supposed to do. Many bad things were taking place, and most importantly, it was so short-term that within in a very short number of years, they would be able to make nuclear weapons, and that’s unacceptable. Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon,” the president said.
“Also included in this is we want the stoppage immediately of their sponsoring of terrorism. They sponsored terrorism at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, and that’s been over the last number of years, and they’ve taken all of that money that was given to them by the past administration, and much of it was given out to terrorist organizations,” he said.
Trump also criticized former Secretary of State John Kerry for acknowledging that Iran will probably use some of the money to fund terrorism.
“In fact, I remember when John Kerry was asked a question about whether or not this money will be spent for terror. He actually said yes, or at least he was referring to some of it, but he said, yes, it will be used for terror. If you can believe that, we’re giving them money, and we’re saying, yes, it can be used for terror. That was not a good answer, but that was the least of it frankly,” the president said.
Trump said the U.S. is a “a peace-loving nation” and does not “seek conflict with Iran or any other country.” He also said that he looks forward to the day when the sanctions can be lifted “and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous, and productive nation. “
“That can go very quickly. It can be tomorrow. It could also be in years from now. So I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak. In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon, and it won’t happen,” the president said.
Trump also said he doesn’t want money to be spent on sponsoring terrorism and noted that Iran is the number one sponsor of terrorism worldwide. He said the U.S. has shown “a lot of restraint,” but that doesn’t mean it would show restraint in the future.
“I felt that we want to give this a chance, give it a good chance, because I think Iran potentially has a phenomenal future, just – and I say that about North Korea too. I’ve said it about North Korea. I think North Korea has a phenomenal future, and I think Iran also has a phenomenal future,” the president said.
Asked whether his goal is to negotiate a new deal with Iran, Trump said, “We would love to be able to negotiate a deal if they want to. If they don’t want to, that’s fine too, but we would love to be able to, and frankly, they might as well do it soon.”
He praised the Iranian people as “great people,” adding that he knows “many of them” from living in New York. He also criticized Obama’s deal with Iran again, saying, “The deal should have never been done.”
“It wasn’t ratified by Congress, wasn’t properly done as you know. As a treaty, it wasn’t properly done. It was incorrectly done, but we’ll get it properly done, so we’ll see what happens. I hope it’s going to be for the good,” the president said.
When asked whether the sanctions were in response to Iran shooting down the U.S. drone, Trump said, “This you could probably … add that into it, but basically, this is something that was going to happen anyway.”
As far as what message he has for the supreme leader and whether he wants a one-on-one meeting with him, Trump said, “My only message is he has the potential to have a great country and quickly, very quickly, but I think they should do that rather than going along this very destructive path – destructive for everybody. We can’t let him have a nuclear weapon.
“He said he doesn’t want nuclear weapons. It’s a great thing to say, but a lot of things have been said over the years, and it turns out to be not so, but he said very openly and plainly for everyone to hear that he does not want to have nuclear weapons, so if that’s the case, we can do something very quickly,” the president said.