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 ClapperThe risk of a politicized national intelligence director CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump Trump predicts 'historic' conclusions from DOJ's watchdog report on 'spying' MORE and former Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinThe Trumpification of the federal courts Global health is the last bastion of bipartisan foreign policy Can the United States Senate rise to the occasion? Probably not MORE (D-Mich.), argued President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister 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) HaleyLatest Bolton revelations are no game-changer Is Mike Pence preparing to resign, assume the presidency, or both? Judd Apatow urges Georgia voters to get rid of Doug Collins after 'terrorists' comment 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.