Tensions were rising Monday after President Donald Trump issued a thinly-veiled threat against Iran that the United States is “locked and loaded,” reigniting questions about military action after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure caused oil prices to surge.
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Thick black smoke risese from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 14, 2019.
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“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Trump tweeted.
(MORE: Iran fired cruise missiles in attack on Saudi oil facility: Senior US official)
The Washington Post/Getty Images, FILE
President Donald Trump signs a National Security Presidential Memorandum as he announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, May 08, 2018 in Washington.
It was just the latest in a long series of threats Trump has made against Iran, each followed by uncertainty over whether he would follow through with a military response.
On Monday, he did as he often does, and answered reporter questions about his intentions with “We’ll see what happens.”
He came close to making good on this threats of military action in June, after Iran shot down an unarmed and unmanned U.S. RQ-4A Global Hawk drone flying in international airspace over the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz. Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake” after a top Iranian commander warned Iran was “ready for war.”
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Iranians burn American flags during an anti-U.S. demonstration outside the former U.S. embassy headquarters in Tehran, Iran, on May 9, 2018.
But he called off a military strike against Iran at the last-minute, placing the blame on someone “loose and stupid” in Iran — an individual who had made a “big mistake.”
Five days later and following the attack on two commercial tankers sailing in international waters in the Gulf of Oman, Trump escalated his threats against Iran, promising Iran would be met with “great and overwhelming force” and potential “obliteration” in some areas if it attacks “anything American” after Iranian leaders said the White House “is afflicted by mental retardation” and that they would be permanently close the door to diplomacy in the wake of U.S. sanctions.
(MORE: Trump responds to Iranian insults with threat of ‘obliteration’)
Trump called statements made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign minister “ignorant and insulting,” and then issued another stark threat: “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”
In June 2018, after Trump announced he was formally pulling the U.S. out of the nuclear deal, he issued a threat to Iran after the country’s president Hassan Rouhani said that pursuing hostilities against his country could lead to “the mother of all wars.”
(MORE: How tensions grew between the US and Iran: Timeline)
Trump tweeted in all-caps, “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly expressed concern over a potential war with Iran and in May said that “we have to avoid any war with Iran.”
(MORE: Alarmed lawmakers demand answers amid growing tensions with Iran)
During an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations in June, Pelosi expressed concern with why Trump is being “provocative with the Iranians.”
“He comes in and undoes [the nuclear deal] and inflames the U.S.-Iran issue. Why?” Pelosi asked. “What is the purpose? I’m not going to accuse anybody of instigating anything, but for not having a policy that would smooth the waters so to speak.”