The US has launched an information campaign targeting Iran's top leadership in a bid to undermine their position and force them to change their policies, Reuters reported, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the campaign. According to the American officials, the goal of the campaign is to persuade Tehran, by means of fueling public unrest in the country, to abandon its nuclear program and to stop supporting various militant groups.
In a bid to pressure Iranian society to demand changes to Tehran's policies, Washington is planning to disseminate information, sometimes distorted and exaggerated, that portrays the Iranian leadership in a bad light, Reuters said, citing current and former US officials.
The sources pointed out that the program, which works as a complement to the sanctions imposed on the Iranian economy, is supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
The White House and State Department have declined to officially comment reports regarding the alleged information campaign, but an anonymous State Department official noted that Washington is not pursuing "regime change" in the Islamic Republic, but merely wants to change "the Iranian government's behavior."
"We know we are driving Iran to make some hard choices. Either they can change their ways or find it increasingly difficult to engage in their malign activities," the official said.
President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that the US was withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; also known as Iran nuclear deal), an international agreement reached in 2015 by Iran, the United States, Russia, France, China, the UK, Germany and the EU. The deal was designed in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, lifting economic sanctions against the country in return.
Trump has consistently been a harsh opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, calling it "defective at its core." He demanded that it be "fixed," threatening to withdraw the US from the deal and to re-impose economic sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised that the new sanctions would be the harshest in history and would not be lifted until Tehran abandons its nuclear program for good. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the heads of two of the EU's leading countries, attempted to convince Trump to stick to the deal, but their efforts ultimately failed.