Opinion by Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst
The leaders of Iran have reason to be confused about what President Trump's goals are when it comes to their country. Trump pulled the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal last year and then imposed draconian new sanctions on Iran. In June, Trump ordered military strikes against Iran and then called them off at the last minute. Trump has also said he would sit down with the Iranian leadership without preconditions, but now he appears to have reversed himself.
Trump's posturing back and forth between aggression and conciliation might work for a real estate deal in Manhattan, but it's quite confusing and the stakes are also much higher when you are dealing with the complex calculations of a major regional power such as Iran, which has long regarded the United States as a foe.
Forget about the Iranians -- Trump's shifting positions on Iran seem to be confusing even for members of his own cabinet. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who plays a key role in enforcing American sanctions against Iran, said last week that Trump could meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with "no preconditions."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made exactly the same point in June, saying the Trump administration was prepared to talk to Iran with "no preconditions."
And in July, Trump himself said he would meet with Rouhani with "no precondition."
But Trump seems to now have amnesia about it, tweeting Sunday, "The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions.' That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)."
Trump has a history of sending mixed messages regarding his intentions toward Iran. After the Iranians shot down a US drone in June, he tweeted, "Iran made a very big mistake!" Trump approved retaliatory strikes against Iranian missile batteries and radars and then abruptly called off the operation.
In recent weeks Trump has made conciliatory statements about the Iranians. Earlier this month, Trump said he could be open to meeting with Rouhani at the UN General Assembly in New York, which begins next week.
Trump's recently departed national security adviser, John Bolton -- long an advocate for regime change in Iran -- opposed a suggestion from Trump that he might support lifting some of the sanctions against Iran, according to The Washington Post. This disagreement was one of the reasons for Bolton's ouster from the White House last week.
Monday, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said there was no possibility of a meeting between Rouhani and Trump at the General Assembly.
Go to link