Trump asks Lindsey Graham to help make new Iran nuclear deal, reports say

Republican senator tasked with helping White House devise policy warns of possible looming US-Iran military conflict

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 01 August 2019 15:25
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Mike Pompeo on Iran seizing British oil tanker: 'responsibility falls to UK to take care of its ships'

Donald Trump’s administration wants Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina to help craft a new Iran nuclear deal after the president withdrew from his predecessor’s landmark legislation, according to a new report.

Mr Trump’s administration has paired Middle East policy advisers with “outside actors” to field ideas for the new plan, the Daily Beast reported Thursday, quoting four sources.

Mr Graham has taken a hard-line approach to the US-Iran conflict, calling Tehran a “provocative regime” and “an enemy of mankind” that “threatens the existence of the state of Israel”.

“If you are not willing to take this enemy on, you will regret it,” the senator said after being briefed on escalating tensions between the two countries.

Mr Graham and other US officials close to the president have hinted at a potential military conflict arising out of increasingly hostile activity near the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has seized a British-flagged vessel and reportedly attacked two other tankers, according to US intelligence.

Mr Graham told the Daily Beast in an interview this week he wanted Iran to sign an agreement saying it will not enrich and reprocess its nuclear fuel.

The senator described the pledge he’d like Tehran to agree to as the “gold standard,” telling the news outlet: “I told the president: Put the 123 on the table with the Iranians. Make them say ‘no.’”

“I think the Iranians will say no,” he added, “and I think that will force the Europeans’ hands.”

The US State Department said in a statement it was “seeking a deal with Iran that comprehensively addresses the regime’s destabilizing behaviour—not just its nuclear program, but also its missile program, support for terrorist proxies, and malign regional behaviour.”

“We want Iran to behave like a ‘normal nation,’” the statement added.

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