US President Donald Trump has said he will impose “major” new sanctions on Iran in an effort to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons.
He also said military action was “always on the table” against Iran following the shooting down of an unmanned US drone earlier this week by the Islamic Republic.
But he indicated he was open to reversing the escalation, saying he was willing to quickly reach a deal with Iran that would bolster the country’s flagging economy.
“We will call it ‘Let’s make Iran great again’,” Mr Trump said.
He later tweeted: “We are putting major additional sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again.”
Mr Trump insisted he did not reverse a decision to launch military strikes against Iran, but rather chose not to proceed with them.
The president made the assertion following reports that US armed forces were minutes away from launching an airstrike against Iranian targets which could have killed an estimated 150 people, in retaliation to the downing of the drone.
Mr Trump tweeted: “I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK,’ as people are incorrectly reporting, I just stopped it from going forward at this time!”
Meanwhile, Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison will call for “urgent de-escalation” of flared tensions when he holds talks with the Iranian government in Tehran on Sunday.
The trip was announced after Mr Trump said the US was “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “At this time of increased regional tensions and at a crucial period for the future of the nuclear deal, this visit is an opportunity for further open, frank and constructive engagement with the government of Iran.
“Dr Murrison will call for urgent de-escalation in the region and raise UK and international concerns about Iran’s regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal to which the UK remains fully committed.”
Mr Trump pulled out of a long-term deal struck with Iran in 2015 to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
The deal was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama along with the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, which still support the agreement.
But Mr Trump declared it a “terrible” deal and imposed more sanctions.
Tensions between the US and Iran have increased in recent weeks amid claims by Washington that Tehran has been behind attacks on oil tankers the Persian Gulf.