According to US Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, an armed conflict with Iran would be “many times worse than the Iraq War”, with his comments closely following a media report that American officials, led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, had come up with a brand-new military plan against the Islamic Republic.
Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly proposed the plan, which he updated on Bolton’s recommendation, at a meeting of Trump’s top national security aides on the broader Iran agenda last Thursday, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing White House sources.
Speaking to MSNBC's Ali Velshi, the long-standing US senator for Vermont commented:
"Sixteen years ago, the US committed one of the worst blunders in [the] history of our country by attacking Iraq", Sanders said in a video that emerged on Tuesday, before continuing:
"Now, based on that disaster that he helped bring about in Iraq, it appears that John Bolton wants a war in Iran".
"It is almost impossible to imagine that after the horror of the war in Iraq when we were lied to by the Bush administration and one of the leading architects was this very same, John Bolton", Sanders pointed out.
The senator noted that he was fully engaged with setting up a congressional coalition meant to force the president to request Congress’ consent, should he make up his mind to start a military confrontation with Iran.
"I am working hard to see if we can get 51 members of the US Senate, as well as a majority in the House of Representatives to make clear that before the President takes any military action in Iran or anyplace else, he must seek authorisation from the Congress".
Per the NYT report citing Bolton’s alleged plan, US officials may be preparing to deploy up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter threats coming from Iran.
However, when asked about the numbers featured in the report, Trump stated on Tuesday that the White House had no plans to this end, and “hopefully, we are not going to have to plan for that”, the president pointed out, adding that if that were to happen, the US would “send a hell of a lot more troops than that”.
Pompeo, in the meantime, issued a similar comment while on a visit to the Russian city of Sochi on Tuesday, stating that the US “fundamentally doesn’t seek a war with Iran”.
Tensions between the US and Iran intensified great after the US unilaterally quit the landmark P5+1 deal last May, causing backlash among many of its Western European allies.
Washington has since been trying hard to reduce Tehran’s oil exports to “zero” by restoring previous sanctions on the country’s energy sphere, as well as imposing new ones on those international firms and individuals who have continued to do business with Iran. In terms of military threats, the US recently sent an aircraft carrier strike group close to Iran's borders, with the Islamic Republic suspending, in the meantime, some of its commitments under the JCPOA agreement.