President Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered the Treasury Department to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran after drone attacks on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
It was not immediately clear exactly what he instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to do. The U.S. has long had punitive sanctions in place against Iran.
Trump’s move comes after drone strikes on Saturday that severely damaged a crude-processing plant and oil field in Saudi Arabia, which is the largest in the world. The U.S. and the Saudis have accused Iran of perpetrating the attacks.
The drone strikes prompted an immediate spike in crude prices, which experts said could soon raise the price of gas by 20 cents or more in the U.S. After Trump’s announcement on Wednesday, oil prices fell.
After the attack, Trump said U.S. authorities suspected Iran. “It’s certainly looking that way at this point,” Trump said Monday, although he steered clear of directly blaming Iran.
“Do I want war? I don’t want war with anybody,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, adding: “We have the strongest military in the world.”
“I don’t want war with anybody but we are prepared more than anybody … We have a lot of options but we are not looking at options right now,” he said. “That was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger very easily by our country, but we are going to find out who definitively did it first,” he added.
“We have a lot of options, but I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this,” Trump said.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Monday the attacks were a “reciprocal response” to Saudi aggression against Yemen, but claims they came from Yemen, not Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Trump was more aggressive on Sunday when he said the U.S. was “locked and loaded.”
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” he wrote on Twitter.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that the Trump administration was considering a range of options to retaliate against Iran, “including a cyberattack or physical strikes, U.S. officials briefed on recent deliberations said. Military leaders presented Trump with multiple possible actions in a national security meeting Monday, but Trump asked for additional choices, people briefed on that meeting said.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also blamed Iran for the attacks. He is currently heading to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to “coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.
“The Pentagon is preparing a report on who was responsible and intends to make it public within 48 hours, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday,” Bloomberg News reported. “The official couldn’t confirm or deny a CBS News report that the U.S. has identified locations in southern Iran from which it believes more than 20 drones and cruise missiles were launched.”