Following strikes by 22 ballistic missiles fired at two bases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces Tuesday — which Iran claimed responsibility for — tensions appeared to be de-escalating Wednesday as both President Donald Trump and the Iranian government indicated further violence was not expected.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” President Trump said Wednesday. “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.”
Trump added that the US “will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior,” and that as long as he is president, “Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
Following Tuesday’s missile strikes, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, released a statement on Twitter similarly indicating that further escalation by Iran should not be expected. Iran “concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter,” Zarif said. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who served in the Marine Corps, released a statement Wednesday regarding the missile strikes.
“I am glad President Trump is sending a very strong message to Iranian leaders,” Roberts said. “I believe it’s equally as important that President Trump very clearly left the door open for further negotiations that could lead to more peaceful relations. I am relieved no American or Iraqi lives were lost in last night’s attacks. As always, my prayers are with our servicemen and women. Semper Fi.”
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) also released a statement on the missile strikes following President Trump's comments Wednesday.
“President Trump made it clear that he wants to avoid military conflict with Iran but reiterated that further attacks on Americans are unacceptable," Moran said. "This is the right message, and now is the time for Iran to meet the President at the negotiating table. We are relieved that no American or Iraqi servicemembers were harmed in the Iranian attack last night, and I will continue to work with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East. Thank you to the brave men and women who serve on the front lines to protect American interests and our way of life.”
Moran also previously commented on the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike last week, which Iran was retaliating for with its missile strikes.
“It reminds us that once we commit ourselves to military action around the globe, in this case Iraq, it’s difficult despite a desire by, certainly President Trump, the American people and many members of Congress to extricate ourselves from the Middle East, it is a difficult task to do,” Sen. Moran said last week.
“Everything that we know about Gen. Soleimani indicates that he is the perpetrator of death, and the death of Americans,” Moran said. “I certainly support this effort to reduce the opportunities, the desire on the part of Iran to make those attempts at killing American men and women in our military.”
Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Kansas 2nd District) could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he previously also commented on Soleimani’s death.
“From years spent in Iraq helping fight the War on Terror, I know the best way to deal with evil regimes like Iran and cruel men like Soleimani is a proportionate response and the reestablishment of deterrence,” Watkins said in a statement released last week. “For years Iran did not see the United States as a credible threat because under President Obama—we weren’t. Now, we have a President who understands what so many service members know: actions run risks, but inaction returns more consequences in the long run.”
This article has been updated to include a statement released by Sen. Moran on Wednesday following publication of the original version of the article.