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Trump declares Iran 'standing down' as he steps back from brink of war

Trump declares Iran 'standing down' as he steps back from brink of war
US President Donald Trump says Iran appears to be "standing down" and said no Americans were harmed in Iran's missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing US troops.
The Iranian strikes had come days after Mr Trump authorised the targeted killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.
In a special address to the nation from the White House, Mr Trump reiterated his position that "Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon."
President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases housing US troops. (AP)
He added that Americans should be "extremely grateful and happy" with the outcome.
The president also demanded Iran "abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism" if it wishes for a series of new economic sanctions now imposed by the US to be lifted.
ANALYSIS:Trump's address on Iran military strikes hints at uncertain future
Iran has launched a missile attack on two US military bases in Iraq. (Fars News)
"As long as I'm president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon," Trump said.
"For far too long - all the way back to 1979 to be exact - nations have tolerated Iran's destructive and destabilising behaviour in the Middle East and beyond – those days are over.
"Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilised world. We will never let that happen."
The Iranian strikes had come days after Trump authorised the targeted killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force. (AP)
Mr Trump defended the actions of the US military in striking and killing Gen. Soleimani, saying that it had eliminated "the world's top terrorist" who had been "planning new attacks on American targets".
He did not provide more detail on the intelligence the US had of the planned attacks.
"Soleimani's hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood," he said.
"He should have been terminated long ago. 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."
Flanked by high-ranking military and political executives, US President Donald Trump announced he will impose economic sanctions on Iran rather than continued armed action. (AP)
The president said the US would not pursue the use of its military force against Iran, and instead said the new economic sanctions were an attempt to influence the country to "change its behaviour".
He also announced he would ask NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process."
Earlier, Iran's Supreme Leader said the missile attack yesterday was "a slap on the face" for the US and hinted at further military action.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the missile strikes as a 'slap on the face' of the United States. (PA/AAP)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the stern remarks in front of a packed crowd in Tehran.
"Last night we slapped them on the face," Khamenei said, as the crowd chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel".
"When it comes to confrontation, military actions of this kind is not enough."
He said what is important is that the presence of the "corrupt president of the US should come to an end" and that the US brought "war and hostility and deception".
"I can say this very clearly that the enemy is America," he said.