In a letter to Donald Trump seen by Foreign Policy magazine, a group of Democratic lawmakers along with independent Senator Bernie Sanders, berated the US president for leading Washington along a “path to another war in the Middle East”.
The document, which was also signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen, Ed Markey, and Jeff Merkley, described the Trump administration’s Iran strategy as “increasingly inconsistent and counterproductive”.
The letter voiced alarm that the strategy’s assessments of threats allegedly emanating from Iran “fit into a larger pattern of inflating threats and bending intelligence to justify dangerous, predetermined policies.”
The lawmakers asked Trump to respond to their message by 15 June, urging him to clarify his Iran policy, including on issues pertaining to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The letter comes after the US president told acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Thursday that he does not want the US to go to war with Iran. Separately, Trump tweeted this week that he is confident that the Islamic Republic will soon come to the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear programme.
Earlier, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi played down the importance of Washington allegedly sharing a phone number for Tehran to get in touch with President Trump.
“In order to exit the difficult situation that Trump has created for himself and the US, there is no need for mediation and phone number. Washington has to revise its policy and behaviour”, Araghchi told the Iranian YLC news outlet.
The developments come amid increasing tensions between Iran and the US which escalated on 8 May, when Tehran announced that it would backtrack on some of its "voluntary" commitments under the JCPOA.
Shortly after, the US reinforced its military presence in the Persian Gulf with the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to send “a clear and unmistakable message” to Tehran.
Additionally, Washington deployed Patriot missile defence systems and an Arlington amphibious warship to the region, with Iran expressing its readiness to retaliate in case of a possible military conflict.