President Donald Trump said on July 22 that Iran’s recent actions were making it increasingly difficult for him to consider making a deal with the regime amid heightened tensions between the two nations.
Speaking to reporters at the Oval Office, Trump said the Islamic regime’s recent acts of aggression were making it more difficult for him to renegotiate another deal with them. He chastised the regime for being disrespectful toward the United States, saying that their actions were a “big mistake.”
“One of the best things I’ve done is terminate that ridiculous deal. If they want to make a deal, it’s—frankly, it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they behave very badly. They’re saying bad things,” Trump said.
“And I’ll tell you, it could go either way very easily. Very easily. And I’m okay either way it goes,” he added.
Trump did not provide a definite answer about whether the United States is closer to negotiations or war with Iran but said that the regime “doesn’t know where they are” and that he will wait and “see what happens.”
“I’ve been watching and reading a lot of reports. And right now, they’re a very mixed up country. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going. They have tremendous problems economically. Their country is in turmoil,” Trump said. “So whatever it is it is, I’m just going to sit back and look. We’ll see what happens.”
The president’s comments come after Iran claimed that it had captured 17 spies working for the CIA and sentenced some of them to death, according to Iranian reports. Iran had also escalated tensions with the West by seizing a British oil tanker, Stena Imperio, near the Strait of Hormuz last week, in what is believed to be a retaliatory move against the UK. The British navy on July 4 seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar for breaching European Union sanctions by smuggling oil to Syria.
At the White House, Trump reiterated earlier comments about the veracity of the reports about the arrests, accusing the regime of “lying” and disseminating “propaganda.”
“They lie a lot,” the president said. “I read a report today about CIA. That’s totally a false story. That’s another lie. They put out propaganda. They put out lies.”
The president said that the United States is prepared for the “absolute worst” with Iran but is also ready to negotiate.
Earlier in the day, Trump denied Iran’s claim in a Twitter post saying that the regime was spreading “more lies and propaganda.”
“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!”
The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019
Tensions between the United States and the Iranian regime came into the spotlight again after Iran claimed that it had arrested the CIA spies following news that it had dismantled a CIA spy ring last month. Iranian state television published images it claimed showed CIA officers who had been in touch with the suspected spies.
The regime’s Ministry of Intelligence said the spies had been arrested in the calendar year to March. Some Iranian media outlets reported that some of the men were sentenced to death while others receive lengthy jail sentences.
“The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centers in the economic, nuclear, infrastructure, military and cyber areas … where they collected classified information,” read a ministry statement.
The conflict between the two nations became more prominent in recent months following multiple confrontations in the region. Last month, Iran shot down an American surveillance drone claiming that it had violated Iranian airspace, a move that almost sparked a retaliatory air strike. The Pentagon at the time said that the drone was flying in international waters.
Then Trump announced last week that the U.S. Navy took defensive action by shooting down an Iranian drone near the Strait of Hormuz that had come too close.
“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a near distance, approximately 1,000 yards,” Trump said July 18, referring to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship that is often deployed in and around the Persian Gulf.
“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump continued, without giving further details.
I want to apprise everyone of an incident in the Strait of Hormuz today, involving #USSBoxer, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship. The BOXER took defensive action against an Iranian drone…. pic.twitter.com/Zql6nAUGxF
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2019
“This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” Trump said, according to a White House pool report.
More recently, Iran had seized a British oil tanker, Stena Imperio, near the Strait of Hormuz, for “not following international maritime regulations,” according to the regime. The seizure was seen as a retaliatory move against the UK after the British navy seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar on July 4 for allegedly breaching European Union sanctions by smuggling oil to Syria.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on July 16 that Iran would respond to Britain’s “piracy” over the Iranian tanker seizure. In response, the UK announced plans on July 22 to implement a Europe-led “maritime protection mission” to safeguard shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz, reported the Associated Press.
Iran is currently facing strong economic pressure after the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed stringent sanctions against the Islamic regime, which recently began breaching the uranium enrichment limits set out in the deal.
Trump said the deal didn’t do enough to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon and that it also failed to address other concerns the United States has with the Islamic regime, such as its ballistic missile development, support for terrorist groups and militias, threatening maritime shipping routes, and more.
Epoch Times reporters Petr Svab and Jack Phillips, NTD reporter Mimi Nguyen-Ly, and Reuters contributed to this report.