US President Donald Trump has stepped up his threats against Iran, vowing to retaliate if the Islamic Republic attacks America.
“The United States just spent two trillion dollars on military equipment,” he tweeted on Sunday. “We are the biggest and by far the best [military] in the world!”
“If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
As is often the case, it’s not clear where President Trump got the $2-trillion number from. The incumbent administration did start spending more on defence after years of steep cuts under Barack Obama, but the total military spending over three years of Trump’s presidency was $2 trillion, so the equipment expenditure was likely a fracture of that number.
In a series of tweets earlier in the day, Trump warned that the Pentagon had 52 Iranian sites in its crosshairs, vowing to hit Iran “very fast and very hard” should it attack Americans or US assets.
The 52 sites represent the 52 hostages taken by Iran at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. They were eventually released, but the affair led to a diplomatic rupture between the two nations and the introduction of stringent US sanctions on Iran.
A shadow of a new conflict has been hanging over the Middle East following the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the elite Quds force and one of the most powerful figures in Iran.
Soleimani, the mastermind behind Iran’s military and intelligence operations abroad, was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and another 10 people, who were with them in a convoy.
The Pentagon claimed that Soleimani was behind the recent assault on the American embassy in Baghdad – which occurred during mass demonstrations against the deadly US strikes on Hezbollah militants in Iraq and Syria – and that he was planning more attacks against the United States.
Iran promised to seek revenge for Soleimani, and the US has announced the deployment of an additional 3,500 soldiers to the Middle East, marking the biggest escalation in months, since the shoot-down of a US drone by Iranian forces.
Senior IRGC official Mohsen Rezaee promised take “vigorous revenge” on the US, although army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi suggested on Sunday that the US doesn’t “have the courage” for a military confrontation.