President Donald Trump announced what he called "hard-hitting" sanctions against Iran on Monday — a move that comes after the Middle Eastern country shot down an American military drone last week.
"Today's actions follow a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones," Trump told reporters from the Oval Office on Monday. "The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible of the hostile conduct of the regime. He's respected within his country. His office oversees the regime's most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
The sanctions in question are intended to target Iran's power brokers, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and various military officials. As Trump delivered his statement, he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
After Trump's announcement, Mnuchin told reporters that "these sanctions are all very important for recent activities. The president has also instructed me that we will be designating Zarif later this week."
Trump made headlines Sunday after an interview with "Meet the Press" aired, in which he claimed he had bucked the advice of administration hawks like national security adviser John Bolton to opt for a non-lethal means of retaliation.
"I have some hawks. Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him, he'd take on the whole world at one time. OK?" Trump told NBC News' Chuck Todd. "But that doesn't matter, because I want both sides. You know, some people said, 'Why did you put —' You know, I was against going into Iraq for years and years. And before it ever happened, I was against going into Iraq. And some people said, 'Oh, I don't know.' I was totally against, and I was a private citizen. It never made sense to me. I was against going into the Middle East. Chuck, we've spent $7 trillion in the Middle East right now."
After Todd asked whether there were planes in the air ready to bomb Iran before he altered the policy, Trump later said, "No, but they would have been pretty soon, and things would have happened to a point where you wouldn't turn back or couldn't turn back. So they came, and they said, 'Sir, we're ready to go. We'd like a decision.' I said, 'I want to know something before you go: How many people will be killed, in this case Iranians?' I said, 'How many people are going to be killed?' 'Sir, I'd like get back to you on that.' Great people — these generals.
"They said — came back — said, 'Sir, approximately 150.' And I thought about it for a second, and I said, 'You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone — plane, whatever you want to call it," Trump continued. "And here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said, 'Go ahead.' And I didn't like it. I didn't think it was, I didn’t think it was proportionate."