“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Never threaten the United States again!”
That appeared to be a considerable shift in tone from the president’s brief remarks at the White House on Thursday, when he responded “I hope not” after being asked whether the United States and Iran were headed toward war.
Trump, who announced last year that he would withdraw the United States from a landmark 2015 deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, has indicated privately in recent days that he prefers a diplomatic approach to diffuse the renewed tensions in the Middle East.
Concerned that his more hawkish advisers could push the United States into a military confrontation, Trump, who campaigned on withdrawing the United States from entanglements abroad, has indicated that he wants to speak directly with Iranian leaders.
But his threatening language Sunday echoes rhetoric he used against North Korea in 2017, when he warned of “fire and fury” against the regime of Kim Jong Un before ultimately holding direct talks with the North Korean leader in Singapore and Vietnam.
The White House did not immediately return a request Sunday for comment on what prompted the tweet, which was sent about 1½ hours after Trump returned to the White House from his golf club in Sterling, Va.
Trump has repeatedly complained, through Twitter and in public comments, about the coverage of the infighting within his administration over how to approach Tehran.
“The Fake News Media is hurting our Country with its fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran,” he tweeted Friday. “It is scattershot, poorly sourced (made up), and DANGEROUS. At least Iran doesn’t know what to think, which at this point may very well be a good thing!”
Mustafa Salim and Tamer El-Ghobashy in Baghdad contributed to this report.