Trump Senior Official Urges Iran to Follow 'Right Path' and Behave 'Like a Normal Nation'

United States National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien emphasized during an on-the-record call Friday that President Donald Trump acted to protect American military personnel and diplomats by launching a drone attack against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani Thursday.

O'Brien added that the drone attack was directed by the president to "prevent further bloodshed" and was a "defensive action".

Soleimani had just come from Damascus after traveling the Middle East, where he was "plotting" attacks against Americans in the region, according to O'Brien.

O'Brien mentioned that Soleimani was using Iranian proxies to "further his goals" in the area, but was not at current liberty to say who those targeted for attack were or whom Soleimani spoke to during the trip. That intelligence may be released in the future.

Robert C. O'Brien
Robert C. O'Brien has stated that Iran has "two choices" going forward. Getty/Michael Campanella

While America, according to O'Brien, continues to "seek a peaceful resolution" with Iran, those efforts have thus far been rebuffed.

"Iran has two choices here, it has two roads to go down—one is further escalation, and pursuing that path will lead to nowhere for the Iranian people and for the regime," O'Brien said. He added that Iran pursuing retaliation or escalation with America would be a "very poor decision"

"This is us interrupting a plot, we had a right to self-defense, they understand that," O'Brien said.

According to O'Brien, the alternate path is for Iran to sit down with the U.S. and negotiate. For Iran, this would mean giving up its nuclear program and proxy wars, "stop taking hostages... and behave like a normal nation."

"They're smart people, they're innovative people. There's no reason why Iran shouldn't be a great country," said O'Brien. "We hope they'll choose the right path."

O'Brien said that members of Congress have been briefed over past 24 hours and senior Trump officials have reached out to them. All appropriate notifications as required by law were made, and there will be further engagement with Congress when they return from their recess.

"We're aware of the meeting that's scheduled for tomorrow," O'Brien concludes, speaking of an Iraqi parliament meeting which is scheduled to occur on Saturday. "The US has dedicated an enormous amount of blood in helping Iraq."

"We'd certainly be very disappointed if there was some sort of adverse decision by the Iraqi parliament ... with respect to our continued ability to assist the people of Iraq," he added.

But O'Brien remains hopeful that the United States will enjoy a good relationship with Iraq going forward, in spite of current high tensions between Iran and America.