Donald Trump said Monday he supports a US-led military strike against Iran in retaliation for its nuclear enrichment program.
Trump said in an interview with Fox News that he wants to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, even if it does so through covert means.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to use military force to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, a prospect that would require a massive attack.
Iran has never used a nuclear weapons program to produce weapons, and Trump’s administration has made clear that it is unlikely to use force to halt Iran’s nuclear progress.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday urged Trump to take a tougher line in the face of threats from Tehran, but also stressed that he is willing to work with the United States on Iran’s efforts to curb nuclear activities.
Trump on Monday also called for Iran to pay for its disputed uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
Zarif said Tehran was in the process of constructing the facility, which was built with taxpayer funds and has been linked to Tehran’s efforts at nuclear weapons.
“We are working on the solution,” he said.
“If we can reach an agreement with Iran that would ensure its nuclear weapons capability, we will do it.
We will pay for the facility.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, said on Monday that Tehran is prepared to make a deal with the U.S. if it will “pay the costs for the destruction of Israel.”
The United States, which says it will supply about $1.3 billion in economic assistance, and Israel, which has warned Tehran that it would be punished if Tehran were to develop a nuclear capability, have both said that they would not support a military strike.
Israel has also been reluctant to publicly weigh in on the nuclear issue.
Trump’s position is similar to those of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, who was an outspoken supporter of military action.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised that he would attack Iran’s ballistic missile program, a key issue in his negotiations with Tehran.
He has also threatened to send troops to Iran, a move that would draw Washington into a confrontation with Tehran and potentially undermine any efforts by Iran to reach a peaceful resolution to its nuclear program.