WASHINGTON (CN) — American sanctions against Iran will tighten Wednesday, after a tweet from President Trump and a week of speculation. “I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump tweeted.
The increased sanctions come after a Saturday drone and cruise missile attack against a Saudi Arabian oil facility. Yemen’s Houthi rebels took initial for the attack, as officials believed missiles were launched from the southwest.
But on Sunday, U.S. officials claimed the attack originated from the north, placing blame on Iran. Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo said in a tweet Saturday that Tehran has been behind hundreds of attacks against Saudi Arabia, while the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “pretends to engage in diplomacy.”
“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo said. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Zarif denied the country’s involvement through Twitter Sunday, condemning Pompeo’s claims against Iran. Failing to create pressure on Iran to admit it was responsible for the attacks, Pompeo now is using deceit to drive his narrative, he said.
“US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory,” Zarif said in the tweet. “Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April 15 proposal to end war & begin talks may.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., at a Tuesday Heritage Foundation event with Vice President Mike Pence, called the attack an act of war.
Pence said during the event that the United States was “locked and loaded … to defend the interests of our allies.”
Graham said on Twitter Tuesday that Trump has taken a measured response against Iran — noting a June conflict where Iran destroyed a U.S. drone they claimed was flying in Iranian air space. Trump then called off an attack against the country within 10 minutes of the scheduled strike, which Graham said Iran saw as a “sign of weakness.”
That brought a retort from Trump on Tuesday, also in a tweet. “No Lindsay,” Trump tweeted. “It was a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!”
Trump told reporters Tuesday he would not meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the attack during the United Nations general assembly next week. Iranian officials have said they might not attend the meeting because they have not received U.S. visas, which the United States is obligated to provide top diplomats for UN. meetings.
“I never rule anything out, but I prefer not meeting him,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.