WASHINGTON -- There were no American or Iraqi casualties as a result of the Iranian missile attacks on Al Asad Air Base and the city of Irbil in Iraq, President Donald J. Trump said today.
After meeting with his national security team, the president reiterated in the strongest manner that the United States will not allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
''We suffered no casualties -- all of our soldiers are safe -- and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,'' Trump said in a statement from the White House. ''Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.''
Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases that the United States uses to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Four of the ballistic missiles broke up in flight; 10 hit Al Asad and two hit Irbil, officials said. Iranian officials said the attack was in response to the recent killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in a U.S. strike in Baghdad.
Soleimani was responsible for hundreds of American deaths during the Iraq conflict and thousands of deaths in and around the Middle East, U.S. officials said. The United States declared the IGRC a terrorist organization in April.
''For far too long -- all the way back to 1979, to be exact -- nations have tolerated Iran's destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond,'' the president said. ''Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.''
Intelligence indicated that Soleimani was planning further attacks of American targets when the president made his decision. ''He should have been terminated long ago,'' Trump said. ''By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.''
The president said the United States is evaluating options moving forward. The United States will impose new sanctions against the regime, and they will remain in place until the regime changes its behavior, he said.
The president called on Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. He called on the remaining signatories to the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program -- the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China -- to withdraw from the plan. Trump pulled the United States out of the deal last year.
''We must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place,'' Trump said. ''We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous, untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.''
The president said he intends to ask NATO allies to become more involved in the Middle East process.