US National Security Council (NSC)’s Director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction Richard Goldberg is quitting for personal reasons, Bloomberg quoted an unnamed source as saying on Saturday.
The source claimed that Goldberg is due to return to the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based think tank where he served as a senior advisor before joining the NSC in early January 2019.
Goldberg’s role at the NSC was endorsed by former US National Security Adviser John Bolton in a bid to contain “what Bolton saw as a desire at the departments of State and Treasury to weaken the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran,” according to Bloomberg.
The news outlet referred to exacerbating tensions last March, when the White House considered extending waivers to allow Iran to sell a limited amount of oil in the face of US sanctions against the Islamic Republic that were reinstated following the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Goldberg’s reported departure from the NSC comes amid fresh US-Iranian tensions which escalated after Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike near the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 3 January.
The US Department of Defence said that the strike was authorised by US President Donald Trump who said that his administration took preemptive action against Soleimani to "stop a war".
An advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US had crossed a "red line" after the Friday airstrike, with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stating that a "harsh retaliation is waiting" for Washington.