Donald Trump Reacts to Iran Calling Him 'Mentally Paralyzed' By Threatening 'Force' and 'Obliteration'

President Donald Trump has reacted to an insult by his Iranian counterpart, warning the Islamic Republic that any attack on U.S. interests would be met with a forceful response.

After Trump's decision to suspend strikes he initially greenlit Thursday over Iran's downing of an American RQ-4A Global Hawk drone, the president chose Monday to announce new sanctions designed to further constrict Tehran's economy, including on its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The following day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the threat, arguing that leaders in the U.S. "are having mental problems and today, the White House has become mentally paralyzed and doesn't know what to do."

Trump later responded, tweeting that "Iran leadership doesn't understand the words 'nice' or 'compassion,' they never have." He claimed that "the thing they do understand is Strength and Power, and the USA is by far the most powerful Military Force in the world, with 1.5 Trillion Dollars invested over the last two years alone.."

Iran's very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & Obama!"

us trump mnuchin pence iran
President Donald Trump meets with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin at the White House on June 24 before signing "hard-hitting sanctions" on Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who the U.S. leader mistakenly referred to as "Khomeini," his predecessor who died in 1989. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

While Reuters quoted Rouhani as calling the White House "mentally retarded" and the Associated Press cited the Iranian president as saying the U.S. executive branch was "afflicted by mental retardation," the translation quoted above came via Rouhani's official website. Other Farsi-speakers chose the term "mental disability" instead.

Monday's sanctions were the latest since Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the product of extensive negotiations between the administrations of former President Barack Obama and Rouhani—including their top diplomats, then-Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Trump pulled out last year, claiming it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, supporting militant groups and developing ballistic missiles.

Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, something Trump acknowledged but disputed on Monday. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Tehran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, but Iranian officials announced last month, on the anniversary of the U.S. exit, that they too would begin reconsidering their commitments. Last week, Iranian officials revealed a plan to enrich uranium beyond levels outlined in the agreement.

Also last month, the U.S. began to bolster its military presence in the Middle East in response to what White House national security adviser John Bolton claimed was a heightened threat to U.S. interests posed by Iran and its regional allies. The U.S. has since blamed two series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman—that separates the Persian Gulf from the world's top oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz—on Iran, which has strongly denied the charges.

Iran has also claimed that the high-flying U.S. surveillance drone it shot down late Wednesday had breached Iranian air space, while the Pentagon has argued it remained in international airspace. Following consultations with Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev backed Iran's account, according to Russia's state-run Sputnik News.