Currents News Staff
Hours after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases, on Jan. 8 President Donald Trump addressed the nation, saying that Iran appears to be standing down after the attack, and that his administration will now impose new sanctions on Iran.
Iran’s missile launch — Jan. 8 in Iraq, late Jan. 7 in the U.S. — was said to be in retaliation for Washington’s targeted killing of Iran’s top militia commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad Jan. 3. The missiles hit the al-Asad airbase, which houses U.S. troops, and American and coalition forces in the northern Iraqi town of Erbil, in areas not heavily populated.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 8, 2020
“By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists,” President Trump said during his address. “If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.”
One death has been confirmed – neither American troops nor Iraqi citizens. Trump credited this to a well-functioning early warning system that was in place at the time of the attack. “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister called the attack a proportionate measure in self-defense, and Iran’s revolutionary guard warned if the United States retaliates, “we will respond to you in America.”
“The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” he explained, noting that the sanctions will remain in place until Iran “changes its behavior.”
Trump did not detail how these sanctions would be put in place, but called on NATO to become more involved in the Middle East.
Trump also spoke directly to the leaders of Iran calling for peace, saying that the “great future, one that you deserve – one of prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also issued a statement following the attack, calling for urgent prayers “that our world’s leaders will pursue dialogue and seek peace.”
“In the face of the escalating tensions with Iran,” he said, people should join him in “asking our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to intercede, that Jesus Christ might strengthen the peacemakers, comfort the suffering, and protect the innocent and all those in harm’s way, especially the men and women in our military and diplomatic service.”
During his general audience Jan. 8, Pope Francis also addressed the current situation in Iraq, offering “a warm welcome to the Arab-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East.”
“In the saddest moments of our lives, in the most distressing moments and of trial, we must not be afraid and be bold as Paul was, because God watches over us, he is always close to us. May the Lord bless you all and always protect you from the evil one,” Pope Francis said.
Catholic News Service contributed to this report.