Trump Threatens to Attack 52 Iranian Sites If They Retaliate

Says sites represent US hostages from 1979

Following Thursday night’s US attack that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, it has been considered a foregone conclusion that Iran is virtually obliged to retaliate in some way. President Trump, however, believes he can threaten Iran enough to preclude any retaliation.

Trump has now announced, via Twitter, that the US has singled out 52 Iranian sites, which he says represents the 52 hostages from the 1979-80 hostage situation, that the US will attack if Iran strikes “any Americans, or American assets.”

Trump was vague on what he intended to attack, saying they were “important to Iran & the Iranian culture.” It is noted that deliberate attacks on cultural heritage sites is illegal under international law.

Trump’s announcement is likely mostly about Iranian Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh saying there are 35 US targets in the region, and Trump wanting to have even more targets. It makes sense that more Iranian targets would exist, the US threats centering on Iran.

Iran is in a difficult position on potential retaliation, given the high-profile nature of the US attack, and Soleimani’s importance within Iran’s military. The US and Iran have hit each other in small ways for years, with bigger attacks deterred by the threat of equally damaging retaliation.

Avoiding full war is always an Iranian priority, but the US attack throws their deterrence into doubt. If Iran does not work something out, or carry out a commensurate measure, the risk would be that the US believes they can carry out attacks of this level with impunity.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.