Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will unveil the administration's "Plan B" for countering Iran on Monday, an idea that some critics call a "pipe dream," while others question whether the administration is coming clean on its goals for the country; CNN reported.
The plan, administration officials say, is to assemble a global coalition to pressure Iran into negotiations on "a new security architecture" that goes beyond its nuclear program. Pompeo's address, his first major foreign policy speech as secretary, will take place at 9 a.m., ET, at the conservative Heritage Foundation policy group.
But many former officials, foreign diplomats and analysts are skeptical, both of the chances a broader pact can come together, and of the administration's interest in diplomacy with Iran.
"A pipe dream"
"A bigger, better deal is a pipe dream," said Robert Einhorn, a former State Department official and non-proliferation expert who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Speaking at a Brookings event on Iran, Einhorn argued that, "the real objective is not really a bigger, better, deal, the real objective is to put immense pressure on Iran" to weaken the regime.
Einhorn added that, "the not so hidden objective of certain members of the administration is regime change."
US officials say the White House will aim to roll back Iran's influence in the region through this new maximum pressure campaign. But people close to the administration say the end goal of the new plan seems to vary depending on who is doing the talking.
Officials such as national security adviser John Bolton would be happy to see a pressure campaign end in regime change, while Pompeo belongs to a camp that has felt it might be too soon for that, said a source familiar with the secretary's thinking. What they hope for, this person and others said, is that a pressure campaign could force Iran to pull back from regional activities in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, to focus on domestic stability.
Pompeo will flesh out the administration's vision for Iran almost two weeks after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement, as the deal is formally known, re-imposed sanctions that had been lifted under the pact, and announced new ones against Iran's Central Bank.
But the decision to pull out of the deal, along with the Trump administration's approach to Europe, means sanctions might not be as effective this time, making it all the harder to realize the goal of a broader deal, many analysts said.
A maximum pressure campaign requires a unified coalition, they argue. Russia and China aren't particularly inclined to help out with a second Iran nuclear deal, having voiced their displeasure at the US decision to leave the original agreement.
And Trump's rejection of the JCPOA has left close allies in Europe angry and alienated, particularly as he has told them that the US will sanction their companies should they continue to honor contracts with Iranian businesses.