Trump Reportedly Approved Pentagon's ‘Irregular Warfare’ Campaign Against Iran Before Exiting WH
The report comes as indirect negotiations are set to begin on reviving the 2015 deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran, which had been exceeding JCPOA limits on its nuclear program after the US exited the accord, demands verifiable removal of Washington’s sanctions plus assurances it would not violate the pact again.
The last-minute decision is said to have been prompted by the fact that the “Joint Staff and CIA were obstructing everything,” a source was cited as saying.
The reported 200-page package of options involved “things that would cause the Iranians to doubt their control over the country, or doubt their ability to fight a war.” The campaign was to be led by the military’s Special Operations forces.
23 November 2021, 11:45 GMT
The plan, inherently tailored to avert a military conflict with Tehran, was purportedly developed by top officials within the military’s Special Operations Command and Central Command, as well as senior civilians within the Defense Department.
“It’s a very detailed escalation ladder. It’s not like all of a sudden you go from zero to 60,” said a former official, adding that some aspects of the multi-pronged campaign were designed not be executed until the US and Iran were “just at the brink” of war.
All aspects of the “irregular warfare” plan were said to have been scrutinised by Pentagon legal personnel, particularly regarding the “legality” of sabotage, and “whether this [campaign] constituted acts of war.”
© Jason ReedFILE PHOTO: The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in La..
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is shown in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in La..
© Jason Reed
Another aspect of the plan that Pentagon lawyers reportedly focused on were actions that might increase “the likelihood of provoking war,” an ex-defence official was quoted as saying.
The Pentagon had required approval from the president to move forward with the “irregular warfare” campaign because, while not including targeted killings, there was a likelihood Iranians might die during proposed “kinetic” acts of sabotage, claimed the report.
Sources are cited as claiming that many aspects of the plan did not formally require presidential permission, yet their execution was ostensibly impeded by some within the United States Department of Defense, especially within the Joint Staff.
According to the report, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, was in favour of targeted Iran-focused actions, while Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had tended to procrastinate, allegedly “sitting on the package”.
“The Pentagon sat on it, refusing to take any action on it, because it didn’t want to,” said the former official,” a former defence official was cited as saying.
“The allegations here simply aren’t true,” a spokesman for Milley was cited as saying in response to the report.
As for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Iran Mission Center, it was lambasted as doing “nothing” on Iran, according to former senior administration official.
“We would get briefed on all these wild, elaborate plans for various operations that never occurred,” said Victoria Coates, who served as deputy national security adviser for Middle East and North African Affairs.
Finally, Donald Trump’s national security officials are said to have concluded that the CIA likely did not possess capabilities to carry out the types of covert action sought by White House policymakers.
Reacting with “supreme disappointment”, Trump is said to have acknowledged at the time that it would fall to the incoming Joe Biden administration to carry out the “shadow warfare” plan. It is unclear, said the report, whether the Democratic POTUS now occupying the White House has pursued the Trump-approved operations.
© AFP 2023 / LARS TERNESIn this Handout photo made available by the EU delegation in Vienna shows Diplomats of the EU, China, Russia and Iran at the start of talks at the Grand Hotel in Vienna on April 6, 2021. - The US will participate in discussions in Vienna to try to save the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power. However, they will not be at the same table as Tehran and it is the Europeans who will serve as intermediaries between the two parties, in the hope of achieving concrete results after two months of impasse.
In this Handout photo made available by the EU delegation in Vienna shows Diplomats of the EU, China, Russia and Iran at the start of talks at the Grand Hotel in Vienna on April 6, 2021. - The US will participate in discussions in Vienna to try to save the international agreement on Iranian nuclear power. However, they will not be at the same table as Tehran and it is the Europeans who will serve as intermediaries between the two parties, in the hope of achieving concrete results after two months of impasse.
© AFP 2023 / LARS TERNES
The report comes as the US is to resume indirect talks with Iran on 29 November in Vienna on a resuscitation of the 2015 deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, claiming that Tehran was in violation of its terms. The US had immediately reimposed stringent sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Days before the resumed talks in Vienna, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have agreed to maintain communication and dialogue to find “common ground” and achieve positive results after the nuclear watchdog’s director-general, Rafael Grossi, visited Tehran, meeting with the country’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, early on Tuesday.
US officials, claims the report, will now be facing the need to determine whether the aforementioned Trump-approved Pentagon campaign could jeopardize nuclear deal talks with Tehran or steer the Istamic Republic towards an agreement.
There has not been any official comment on the report from either the Department of Defense or the CIA declined to comment.