Trump to Weigh More Aggressive U.S. Strategy on Iran over Terror Support

U.S. President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that calls for more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi’ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to five current and former U.S. officials, CNBC reports.

The proposal was drafted by the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it. The plan is aimed at increasing the pressure on Tehran to curb its ballistic missile programs and the support for militants, the sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilization in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” one senior administration official said.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said. The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by the former President Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement.

Since then, Iran’s regime has been constantly violated the spirit of this accord by testing long-range rockets and proceeding its pursuit of nuclear programs. Although the IAEA has performed a huge number of inspections, it did not find any breach in the activities, which is pretty much obscene, due to the fact that images have emerged that Iran is transferring military staff to Syrian battlefields with private airlines.

The proposal of U.S. officials includes more aggressive U.S. interceptions of Iranian arms shipments such as those to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Palestinian groups in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai, a current official and a knowledgeable former U.S. official said.

The plan also recommends the United States react more aggressively in Bahrain, whose Sunni Muslim monarchy has been suppressing majority Shi’ites, who are demanding reforms, the
sources said.

In addition, U.S. naval forces could react more forcefully when harassed by armed speed boats operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s paramilitary and espionage contingent, three of the sources said.

U.S. ships have fired flares and warning shots to drive off IRGC boats that made what was viewed as threatening approaches after refusing to heed radio warnings in the passageway for 35 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum exports.

U.S. commanders now are permitted to open fire only when they think their vessels and the lives of their crews are endangered. The sources offered no details of the proposed changes in the rules, which are classified.