Trump Backs Down Threat To Attack Iranian Cultural Sites After International Outcry
President Donald Trump is no longer threatening to attack Iran’s cultural sites, an act that would be considered a war crime.
Trump said the administration is “supposed to be very careful with [Iran’s] cultural heritage,” while meeting with the Prime Minister of Greece in the Oval Office.
“And you know what, if that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law,” Trump continued. “But think of it: They kill our people, they blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I’m ok with it.”
Trump originally made the threat to warn Iran against retaliating on the U.S. after a targeted airstrike killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump sent a “warning” to Iran.
“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” he tweeted. “The USA wants no more threats!”
Trump reemphasized the threat later that day saying, “They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people … and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”
There are 22 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran, representing important achievements and history throughout the country. Targeting cultural sites is a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Iran vowed revenge for Soleimani’s death and attacked a base housing U.S. troops on Tuesday.
The U.S. had an early warning of the attack, and American troops protected themselves in bunkers. There have been no reported deaths from the missile attack.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted after the attack that Iran does “not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
On Wednesday, Trump appeared uninterested in responding to the attack with more force.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said during his White House statement.
He continued, “The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.”