Donald Trump’s nominee for the first permanent US defense secretary in more than six months, says that the US is not seeking a war with Iran. He also urged that they need to go back to the diplomatic route. Mark Esper is currently serving as the army secretary. He says that Trump administration doesn’t have the congressional authority to rage war on Iran.
He shared these views in the Senate armed services committee. Trump administration can’t go to war with Iran based on the mandate issued by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Trump may have this limitation but other senior Trump officials have refused to rule out using the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) for military action against Iran.
The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo have even sought out to linking Iran with al-Qaida. Esper is a military and former arms industry lobbyist. He will be the first Senate-confirmed defense secretary of Trump administration after James Mattis had stepped down at the beginning of the year. It seemed like he will get the job as he received significant Democratic support.
Esper was unambiguous in saying that AUMF can’t be used to fight Iran as it is used for fighting non-state terrorist groups. However, he added that the president has the constitutional authority to respond to an attack on US troops or interests. He stressed on the point that US is not seeking war with Iran. He urged to go through the diplomatic route to solve the issues.
He said that they might be interested in negotiating a variant of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The nuclear deal is termed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). JCPOA had included limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program. Trump had ousted US from the JCPOA last year. He had sought to impose sanctions on Iran ever since.