President Trump continued his bellicose posture toward Iran on Thursday, reiterating in a series of tweets his administration’s warning that Iran has been “put on notice” for its recent ballistic missile launch.
Iran insists its missile tests are not covered by the nuclear accord reached with the United States and five other world powers, which seeks to rein in Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions. The West, however, has raised alarms in the past over Iran's missile development and widening range of its potential arsenal, which Iran claims can reach Israel and other points around the region.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump assailed former president Barack Obama for backing the nuclear deal with Iran, claiming the sanctions relief helped Iran as its economy was being squeezed by international pressures and isolation.
“Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion,” Trump wrote. (In fact, most experts place the number closer to $100 billion).
Trump’s tweets on Iran came after his administration Wednesday promised to hold the nation “accountable” for possible violations of U.N. restrictions on ballistic missile tests. Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, said the Trump administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.”
In a statement Wednesday, Flynn criticized the Obama administration’s stance on Iran, saying the country now felt “emboldened,” but failed to provide any specifics on what exact actions, if any, the Trump White House planned to take. Trump’s tweets Thursday also did not offer any specifics.
Trump also weighed in Thursday on violent protests at the University of California at Berkeley on Wednesday evening, which led to the cancellation of a planned speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right provocateur and editor at Breitbart News. Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, previously was the chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative website.
“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Trump wrote.
In fact, it is not within Trump’s power as president to deny federal funding to campuses over protests.
Trump’s series of tweets came as he was headed to a prayer breakfast. He also used Twitter to congratulate newly minted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on officially being sworn in to his new post, and to describe Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owen, the Navy SEAL who became the first U.S. service member killed in combat since he took office, as “a great and brave man.”