US President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on a threat to attack Iranian cultural sites despite accusations that any such strike would amount to a war crime.
After his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, had insisted that any military action would conform to international law, Trump said he would regard cultural sites as fair game if Iran resorted to deadly force against US targets.
“They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters.
“If they do anything there will be major retaliation.”
His comments on his return from a break in Florida followed a welter of criticism over a Tweet on Saturday night in which he said sites which were “important to… Iranian culture” were on a list of 52 potential US targets.
Tehran’s foreign minister had reacted to those initial comments by drawing parallels with the Islamic State group’s destruction of the Middle East’s cultural heritage.