U.S. Is 'Taunting' and 'Provoking' Iran, Democratic House Intelligence Committee Member Says

A Democratic House Intelligence Committee Member has claimed that President Donald Trump's administration is pursuing policies that are provoking Iran into aggressive behavior, such as the shooting down of a U.S. drone on Wednesday.

California Representative Jackie Speier told CNN on Thursday that the blame for the current tensions with Iran lies with the Trump administration, and the president's decision to withdraw support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal—last May.

Speier said she was "very concerned" at the course the White House is charting with Iran. "The actions by this administration are so provocative that they are creating an environment that will destine us to go to war," she warned.

"And there's many of us—in fact I would say a majority of the members of the House right now—that would really be repelled by any act of war, but that's where the president is heading."

Speier said U.S. lawmakers will "have to speak up strongly against him using the authorization of use of military force, dating back to the early 2000s, as a basis on which he thinks he can act." The legislation has been used dozens of times since 9/11 to allow American military operations across the world.

“We are provoking them, we are taunting them and it is not in the interest of the American people nor our service members to be going into a war that is not required,” says Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier on news that Iran shot down a US drone. pic.twitter.com/gGVNCEVEMX

— New Day (@NewDay) June 20, 2019

Trump has actually been pursuing a less hawkish line than senior advisers such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. Behind closed doors, Trump has reportedly been frustrated at the administration's lack of diplomatic progress with Tehran, and the aggressive approach of his senior officials.

The divergent rhetoric used by the president and his national security team has produced a confused foreign policy picture, one that Speier said undermines the chance of a peaceful resolution of the Iran crisis.

"It's very typical of the president to have the 'bad cop, good cop,' but from the foreign country's perspective you roll that all into one and you see a very bellicose—as you put it—nature with the United States."

"We are provoking them," she added. "We are taunting them. And it is not in the interests of the American people, nor our service members, to be going into a war that is not required."

Asked whether she was absolving Iran of blame, Speier replied, "What I am saying is that we are not good actors. We were parties to that joint agreement, in which they were not going to enrich more uranium, and that was going to give them the opportunity of some economic relief so they could sell their oil," she continued.

Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May last year, having adopted a firmly anti-Iran stance during his presidential campaign. Speier described the decision as "destructive and belligerent."

The administration wants to renegotiate the deal with tougher restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, limits on its ballistic missile program and limitations on Tehran's regional influence. Iran has said it will not renegotiate under these terms.

"You don't sign an agreement and them revoke it for no reason when everyone—everyone from the Secretary of State on down—had said that Iran was complying with the JCPOA," Speier told CNN. "I firmly put responsibility on this administration and the president."

Iran, U.S., military, taunt, provoke
This photo shows a U.S. Navy patrol boat that took journalists to view a United Arab Emirates naval facility near the port of Fujairah on on June 19, 2019. -/AFP/Getty