National security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war

National security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war
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A bipartisan group of national security leaders on Sunday warned that the Trump administration's strategy toward Iran could lead to a larger conflict, as the president plans to attend the upcoming United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly.

In a statement released by the group National Coalition To Prevent An Iranian Nuclear Weapon, more than 50 prominent foreign policy figures said the administration's pressure campaign against Tehran "has left Iran the option of either capitulation or war."

“The Trump Administration’s Iran strategy is to assert maximum economic, political and military pressure to change Iran’s behavior and threaten, if not cause, collapse of the regime. But since it has not undertaken diplomatic engagement on any of its twelve demands on Iran, the Administration has left Iran the option of either capitulation or war,” the leaders wrote.

The signatories of the letter, which include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperComey: 'The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates' How I learned to love the witch hunt 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE and former Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.), argued President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in May has made achieving his administration's goals more difficult.

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"The Administration’s suggested policy of regime change in Iran reflects wishful thinking and a flawed interpretation of intelligence about Iran’s vulnerability," the signatories wrote. "The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq remains a striking reminder of our inability to estimate accurately the long-term impact of U.S. actions."

The letter, however, is not entirely critical of the administration's strategy and vouches for the importance of ensuring an Iran free of nuclear weapons, something Trump and his allies have long called for. 

The letter comes shortly after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the U.S. for supporting militants who attacked a military parade in the country, killing at least 29 people. Iran has accused Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally in the region, of orchestrating the attack.

On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyWill Trump ignore the Constitution and stay in White House beyond his term? Trump taps ex-State spokeswoman Heather Nauert to help oversee White House fellowships Conservatives slam Omar over tweet on Gaza violence MORE dismissed the accusations, saying the U.S. was not to blame and that the Trump administration had no interest in regime change in Iran.

The letter also comes ahead of Trump's appearance at the U.N., where he is set to chair a Security Council meeting on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Observers expect him to use the opportunity to attack Iran. 

Trump entered the White House promising to take a tougher approach to Tehran than his predecessor, former President Obama. Since then, he has added John Bolton, a noted Iran hawk, to his Cabinet, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran as part of the withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May. 

He also raised eyebrows earlier this summer when he warned Rouhani in an all-caps tweet that Iran could suffer unspecified consequences.