Trump Tells Pentagon Chief He Does Not Want War With Iran – The New York Times

“The escalation by the United States is unacceptable,” Mr. Zarif told reporters, according to AFP.

Mr. Pompeo has outlined 12 steps that Iran must take to satisfy the United States — measures that some in the Pentagon view as unrealistic and could back Iranian leaders into a corner. He recently described American policy as being calculated to produce domestic political unrest in Iran.

Mr. Bolton, as a private citizen, long called for regime change in Tehran. He has resisted compromises that would open the door to negotiations with Tehran, has stocked the N.S.C. with Iran hard-liners and has masterminded recent policy changes to tighten the economic and political vise on the country’s leaders.

Mr. Trump is less frustrated with Mr. Bolton over his handling of Iran — he favors the tougher measures as a warning to Tehran — than over the evolving narrative that his national security adviser is leading the administration’s policy in the Middle East, according to three officials.

The president, they said, is well-versed and comfortable with the administration’s recent steps, which have included imposing increasingly onerous sanctions on Iran and designating the military wing of the government, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as a foreign terrorist organization.

Still, the gravity of the Iranian threat has become the subject of a fierce debate among administration officials. Some officials have argued that it did not warrant a dramatic American response, like deploying thousands of troops to the Middle East, or the partial evacuation of the United States Embassy in Baghdad.

The Pentagon last week presented Mr. Trump with options to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, if Iran attacked American forces or accelerated its work on nuclear weapons. The options were ordered by Mr. Bolton, who has kept an unusually tight grip on the policymaking process for a national security adviser.

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