Glen Johnson, a former aide to Secretary of State John Kerry, says that the relationship between Iran and the U.S. is at a “very dangerous place.” Johnson, who is also a former journalist, worked for Kerry while he was negotiating the Iran nuclear deal that Mr. Trump withdrew from.
“I think we’re getting to a very dangerous place,” Johnson told CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett on this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. Johnson noted how the administration, by its own definition, is putting “maximum pressure” on Iran “in an economic sense.”
“[The administration] has renewed all the sanctions that Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration took off, it has cornered European countries into not trading with Iran, buying its oil. And the Iranians really don’t have a lot of options for responding to that,” Johnson said. “So you’ve seen drip-by-drip things starting to happen.”
Johnson referred to Iran’s downing of an American drone last month over what the U.S. claimed was international waters. Iran also allegedly attacked two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz last month. The U.K. said Thursday that three Iranian vessels had unsuccessfully tried “to impede the passage” of a British commercial vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz, although Tehran denied it.
President Trump considered an airstrike against Iran after the American drone was shot down, but said he ultimately decided that the casualties would be too high on the Iranian side.
Johnson said that Iran couldn’t strike back against the U.S. with the same show of military force.
“The Iranian response can’t be economic in the same degree that the U.S. is in initiating action, so there’s just a higher likelihood of confrontation,” Johnson said.
He also criticized Mr. Trump for pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Iran has breached the terms of the deal for a second time this month by enriching uranium beyond the limits set by the agreement, despite Mr. Trump’s warning to Iran to “be very careful.”
“Secretary Kerry and President Obama’s entire purpose in negotiating a deal, which they acknowledged was not perfect in and of itself, was to ratchet down the military tension in that area, first by ensuring that Iran didn’t have a nuclear weapon. And now we’re going back in the opposite direction,” Johnson said.
For more of Major’s conversation with Glen Johnson, download “The Takeout” podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
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