Trump tells Senate GOP ally that he sees opportunity for new talks with Iran
President Trump has told one of his top Senate Republican allies that he sees the exchange of missile strikes between the United States and Iran as an opportunity to begin new negotiations with Iran now that President Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement has been discarded.
Trump also signaled that he’s leaning toward negotiation instead of additional military action to respond to Iran firing more than 20 missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iran early Wednesday.
Trump told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) Tuesday night that he is now ready to negotiate with Iran and indicated he does not plan further military strikes against the Islamic republic.
“I had occasion to talk to the president last night at nine o’clock. He has very good feelings about this, that no Americans at that time — now it’s been confirmed — no Americans were killed,” Inhofe said.
“He believes very strongly that that opens the door for negotiations,” he said of the president.
Inhofe said he does not believe Trump will respond with force to Iran’s Wednesday missile attack.
“I’d be very shocked if he would do that. In fact, there’s no reason for retaliation,” he said.
Trump has previously pledged to negotiate a deal to replace Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which halted Iran’s nuclear program but did not curb Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to strike “a totally different deal with Iran.”
In July of 2018, the president predicted Iran would want to come to the negotiating table at some point.
“I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet any time they want to,” he said. “If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I certainly would be willing to meet.”
Trump told Inhofe, one of his staunchest Capitol Hill allies, that he believes the time is ripe to now act on that vision.
“He’s looking at a new type of negotiations that we haven’t experienced since 1979,” Inhofe said of his conversation with the president.
“I think that’s what the president sees, and I certainly joined him last night. This is an opportunity,” he added.
One of the main criticisms of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, which was signed by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, was that it did nothing to crack down on Iran’s backing of militant groups such as Hezbollah.
Inhofe said the drone strike killing Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force, has sent a strong message to Iran that its support of militant groups that attack U.S. forces and U.S. allies will not be tolerated.
“We are now in a position to have — to let them know the actions taken by the Iranians now have consequences,” he said.
Some Republican lawmakers have called on Trump to de-escalate tensions with Iran immediately.
“The U.S. should seek to deescalate these raised tensions and I will continue to push to bring our troops back from the region,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in a statement Wednesday.