Trump says he will 'substantially' increase sanctions on Iran

President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE on Wednesday said that he has instructed Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE to “substantially” increase economic sanctions on Iran. 

Trump's announcement comes after Trump administration officials have blamed Iran for drone attacks on two Saudi oil sites over the weekend, though the president himself has not yet definitely pinned the blame on Tehran for them. 

“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” the president, who is on a fundraising tour through California, tweeted, without specifically mentioning the attacks.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on whether the president had announced the sanctions in response to the attacks. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Trump administration has been mulling a response to the attacks on the oil sites last Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Trump told reporters earlier this week that Iran appeared to be responsible, but he was waiting on final analysis from U.S. officials.

Trump initially hinted at potential military action — saying in a tweet on Sunday the U.S. was “locked and loaded” and waiting for confirmation and direction from Saudi Arabia — but appeared to soften his rhetoric a day later.

Trump on Monday afternoon said he wants to avoid war with Iran, while also warning that the United States was more prepared than any other nation for armed conflict.

“Do I want war? I don’t want war with anybody,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding: “We have the strongest military in the world.”

“We have a lot of options, but I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this,” Trump later said.   

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP lawmaker: Trump administration 'playing checkers' in Syria while others are 'playing chess' Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring White House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week MORE, who publicly blamed Iran for the attacks over the weekend, is currently traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the attacks and “coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region,” according to the State Department. 

Iran has denied involvement in the attacks, for which Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility.

The Trump administration has levied increased sanctions on Iran after the president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement between six countries and Iran last year.

It is not yet clear whom Trump plans to target with the new sanctions.

The Treasury Department did not immediately return a request for more information.

Updated at 10:50 a.m.