President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE on Wednesday said that he has instructed Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report 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.
I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
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.
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 PompeoMike PompeoThe CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? 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.