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

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

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 ClapperUS intelligence community 'struggled' to brief Trump in 2016, CIA review shows An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Hillicon Valley — Justice Department takes on Uber MORE and former Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (D-Mich.), argued President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in May has made achieving his administration's goals more difficult.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 HaleyNikki HaleyHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Ex-chief of staff says Trump won't run because he can't be seen as 'loser' 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.