As his term is coming to an end, Trump has given the green light to his senior advisers in the fight against Iran, as long as it does not trigger an all-out war.
According to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Trump has given his hawkish officials, especially Secretary of State Pompeo, to exert maximum pressure and punishment on Iran in the coming weeks on the basis that “will not trigger World War III”.
Two Trump administration officials told the Daily Beast that the Trump administration will announce new sanctions in the coming weeks on companies and individuals associated with the Iranian government to “consolidate” the gains that have damaged Tehran’s economy for many years.
According to the report, Pompeo has been a “vanguard” in the Trump administration’s attack on Iran. During his recent trip to the Middle East, Pompeo met with leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to discuss how the three countries can jointly fight against Iran. The trip comes after the U.S. State Department just announced that it had approved plans to sell F-35 aircraft in large quantities to the United Arab Emirates. It is widely believed that this agreement is a way for Dubai to cooperate with Jerusalem to curb Iran. On Friday, Pompeo announced more sanctions related to Iran, this time against Russian entities, which are said to have transferred sensitive technology and goods to Iran’s missile program.
Trump has repeatedly told his advisers that one of their top priorities is to avoid conflict with Iran so that U.S. military personnel will not die. But in the last weeks of his term, Trump is willing to let Israel take the lead in targeting and even killing key figures of the Iranian regime, including the country’s top nuclear weapons scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who on November 27 Shot dead in the town of Abu Sard, on the eastern outskirts of Tehran.
Two senior Trump administration officials told The Beast that Israel was behind the attack, which seems to confirm global suspicion. One of the officials pointed out that U.S. intelligence agencies often share Iran-related information with Israel, but he did not elaborate on the extent of U.S. involvement.
Some of Trump’s close friends urged him not to pay too much attention to the murder. The U.S. government chose to keep its mouth shut about the scientist’s death. A source close to Trump said they have advised the president to avoid tweeting related news on Twitter for no reason in the past few days.
A senior government official said that Trump’s strategy for the coming weeks is clear: continue to use sanctions as a deterrent tool, while providing intelligence to regional allies such as Israel, whose common goal is to undermine the Iranian regime.
The plan is not much different from the one implemented by the Trump administration over the last four years. Since Trump took office in 2017, a group of senior officials, advisers and external groups have helped him formulate and implement “maximum pressure” activities against Iran, and imposed more than 1,000 sanctions on companies and individuals associated with the Iranian government.
Officials said the only difference now is that the Trump administration not only wants to punish Iran, but also wants to create difficulties for Biden’s new government and prevent them from restarting nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Those involved in the formulation of the Trump administration’s Iran policy believe that these Trump sanctions will limit the Biden administration’s ability to get back on track with Tehran, because some of the sanctions may be difficult to lift, especially those against human rights and terrorism. Trump administration officials familiar with Iran sanctions say that after thousands of financial sanctions, multinational companies may now be very reluctant to do business with Iran, and even if the Biden administration lifts sanctions, they will not have normal trade relations with Tehran.
People familiar with the ideas of the Biden team say that when Biden has a clear strategy for Iran and sanctions in January next year, it is to resume the Iran nuclear agreement signed under Obama, if Iran is willing to re-compliance with the agreement.