U.S. officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 21, 2019 - Duration: 02:00s

U.S. officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran

U.S. officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump's administration wants to deter Tehran's aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.

Jonah Green is on the story.

U.S. officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran


This is about protecting our interests in the Middle East.” Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were briefed behind closed doors Tuesday about the escalation in tensions with Iran.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and intelligence officials were on hand to get lawmakers up to speed on recent threats in the region as well as explain U.S. military posturing… SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY PATRICK SHANAHAN: “We do not want the situation to escalate.

We have deterred attacks based on our reposturing of assets, deterred attacks against American forces.” Rhetoric between Tehran and Washington has escalated in recent weeks as the United States tightened sanctions with what it said was the goal of getting a better deal with Iran than President Obama signed in 2015, a deal which Trump pulled out of.

The United States moved an aircraft carrier and forces to the Gulf region in response to intelligence that Iran may be plotting against U.S. interests, an assertion Iran denies.

Republican lawmakers and cabinet officials tried to push back on the perception that this was a prelude to war.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY:“Our recent actions over the last two weeks have been defensive.” SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR MITT ROMNEY: “And designed to deter action on the part of Iran or their surrogates.” Democrats weren’t convinced.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: “There was no effort to lay out a thoughtful, interdepartmental strategy for how this is ultimately going to wind up in a better deal being signed by the iranians than was signed by the Obama administration.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: “I worry very much that intentionally or unintentionally that we can create a situation where a war could take place.” According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday 51% of all Americans believe that the United States will go to war with Iran "within the next few years” and only 39 percent approve of how Trump is dealing with Iran.

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