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Trump threatens 'obliteration' against Iran as Tehran blast new sanctions
DUBAI (Reuters) - President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if the Islamic Republic attacked "anything American," as Iran said the latest U.S. sanctions had closed off any chance of diplomacy.
"Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force," Trump tweeted just days the United States came within minutes of bombing Iranian targets.
"In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," the U.S. president tweeted.
Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures. Sanctions against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are expected later this week.
"Imposing useless sanctions on Iran's Supreme Leader and the commander of Iran's diplomacy is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted.
"Trump's desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security."
The moves came after Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week and Trump called off a retaliatory air strike minutes before impact. It would have been the first time the United States had bombed Iran in decades of hostility between them.
Trump said last week that he had decided at the last minute that too many people would die.
In a televised address on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions against Khamenei would have no practical impact because the cleric had no assets abroad.
Rouhani, a pragmatist who won two elections on promises to open Iran up to the world, described the U.S. moves as desperate and called the White House "mentally retarded" - an insult that other Iranian officials have used in the past about Trump, but a departure from Rouhani's own comparatively measured tone.
Rouhani and his cabinet run Iran's day-to-day affairs, while Khamenei, in power since 1989, is Iran's ultimate authority.
"The White House actions mean it is mentally retarded," Rouhani said. "Tehran's strategic patience does not mean we have fear."
The United States has imposed crippling economic sanctions against Iran since last year, when Trump withdrew from an agreement between Tehran and world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
The crisis has escalated sharply since last month, when the Trump administration tightened the sanctions, ordering all countries to halt purchases of Iranian oil.
That has effectively starved the Iranian economy of the main source of revenue Tehran uses to import food for its 81 million people, and left Iran's pragmatic faction with no benefits to show for its nuclear agreement.
Washington says the 2015 agreement reached under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama did not go far enough because it is not permanent and does not cover issues beyond the nuclear program, such as missiles and regional behavior.
Iran says there is no point negotiating with Washington when it has abandoned a deal that was already reached.
The downing of the U.S. drone - which Iran says was over its air space and the United States says was international skies - followed weeks of rising tensions that had begun to take on a military dimension.
The United States and some regional allies have blamed Iran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf, which Tehran denies. Washington's European allies have repeatedly warned both sides of the danger that a small mistake could lead to war.
A U.S. Air Force combat controller will receive the nation's third highest award for valor this week for playing an essential role in two intense firefight missions against the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.
Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an airman with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing at Air Force Special Operations Command, will receive the Silver Star at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on Nov. 22, the service announced Monday.
SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.