President Donald Trump says he authorized a precision strike against the commander of Iran’s security and intelligence services because he was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans.
“We caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump said Friday, a day after the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani.
Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate that Soleimani should have been taken out by his predecessors.
And he cast his decision as one of deterrence rather than aggression.
“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” Trump said.
Though Trump on Friday sought to cast his decision to take out the leader of Iran’s security and intelligence services as prevention of war, he continued to threaten Iran’s leaders with further strikes should they continue with destabilizing actions in the region.
“We do not seek regime change,” Trump said, adding that Iran’s use of proxy fights “must end and it must end now.”
“The future belongs to the people of Iran,” Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump boasted of US military might, and said the country has “the best intelligence in the world.”
“If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that in particular refers to Iran,” Trump said.