Former CIA director John Brennan called senator Ted Cruz “unworthy to represent the good people of Texas” as the two argued online about the killing of a top Iranian scientist believed to lead the nation’s secretive nuclear programme
The Republican senator, who has long opposed the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear deal and advocated for a tough posture towards the country, accused the former intelligence official of siding with “Iranian zealots” after he condemned the roadside shooting ambush of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, who American and Israeli intelligence believe is behind a secret programme to design an atomic warhead.
The former CIA boss lamented that the assassination, reportedly linked to Israel, would set off regional instability and cautioned that “Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage,” presumably a reference to president-elect Joe Biden, whom he has publicly supported.
Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful uses like energy, and condemned the attack as an “act of state terror.”
Mr Fakhrizadeh’s death, combined with the US attack in January that killed Qassim Suliemani, an Iranian military and intelligence official with deep influence across the Middle East, has further strained US relations with Iran, which have been tense throughout the Trump presidency.
President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal that put certain limits on Iran’s weapons development capabilities, and it has since imposed crushing sanctions that development experts argued could do serious humanitarian damage to the nation as it struggles with a coronavirus outbreak.
As recently as two weeks ago, the president reportedly considered whether to strike Iran’s main nuclear complex, after reports their stockpile of nuclear material had increased substantially.
The conflict over the killing is a reminder that for all the ways domestic strife has marked the Trump presidency, the president has also presided over a number of substantive changes to US foreign policy.
Some have been more public and much-discussed, like his early decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, while others, like Mr Trump’s expansion and further obscuring of the US targeted killing drone program, have been far less controversial areas than they were during the Obama administration.
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