NPR: Former Obama administration Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he's concerned the Trump administration is "baiting Iran in a very dangerous way."
Hagel's reaction comes as nuclear tensions between Iran and the U.S. continued to tighten this week, one year after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, which put restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country will restart some of those activities it had halted under the deal — including enriching uranium — in a matter of weeks if other countries don't protect Iran from increasingly stiff U.S. sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Baghdad this week just days after warning of a possible "escalation" in the region, and an announcement the U.S. will send an aircraft carrier and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf.
Hagel, who was defense secretary when the Iran nuclear deal was originally struck, says having an aircraft carrier group in the region isn't an unusual move. But it's sparking concerns amid Trump administration officials' increasingly aggressive tone.
"You have people within the White House — specifically the national security adviser John Bolton, who's been very clear on his position about Iran. Mr. Pompeo ... has been rather bullish as well," Hagel tells /Here & Now/'s Jeremy Hobson.
State Department adviser Brian Hook told NPR's Morning Edition that the military mobilization was intended to send a message:
"Any attack on U.S. interests or on those of our allies will be met with force. We obviously are not looking for war with Iran but we are postured and ready to defend U.S. forces and interests in that region." >>>