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 ClapperWe need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Whistleblowers and the hypocrisy of the ruling class Hillicon Valley: Clapper praises whistleblower complaint | Senators urge social media giants to take action against 'deepfakes' | Tim Cook asks Supreme Court to protect DACA | Harris pushes Twitter to suspend Trump MORE and former Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinRemembering leaders who put country above party Strange bedfellows oppose the filibuster Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home MORE (D-Mich.), argued President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report 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) HaleyFive ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Tulsi Gabbard rips Trump's Syria decision: 'Kurds are now paying the price' Trump defends Turkey in wake of fierce GOP criticism 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.