President Donald Trump is yet to publicly admit defeat and commit to a transition of power, but talk inside the White House and the GOP is turning to his legacy regardless.
In Iran, the administration is continuing its “maximum pressure” campaign, seeking to collapse the nation’s economy before the end of Trump’s term. Unable to force Tehran to make a new nuclear deal, Trump appears set on making the regime pay as steep a price as possible before he leaves the White House.
The president even asked for military strike options on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Tehran maintains are purely for pursuing civilian power, according to The New York Times. Trump was reportedly talked out of a military strike by advisers.
Iranian leaders have been dismissive of Trump since he lost the election, and are now considering what a Biden administration might hold for Tehran. But they will have to make it through the dying convulsions of the Trump term, which look set to throw more problems at Iran.
A defense adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that Trump was risking a war by flirting with military action.
Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told the Associated Press (AP) Thursday: “We don’t welcome a crisis. We don’t welcome war. We are not after starting a war.”
But he warned: “A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war…Definitely, the United States, the region and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis.”
Dehqan, 62, is among those tipped for a presidential run in Iran’s June elections. Current President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who signed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, is expected to be replaced by a conservative, perhaps even one who has served in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps like Dehqan.
Biden has said he wants to rejoin the JCPOA—which Trump left in 2018—but that Iran must resume compliance. Biden has also hinted he wishes to expand the deal to include limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional proxy network, two things Iranian leaders have said they will not negotiate on.
Dehqan said this week that Tehran will not consider this proposal. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power…with anybody under any circumstances,” he said. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is in our experts, young people and industrial centers.”