July 18, 2019
During a round of golf on Saturday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asked President Donald Trump if he could speak with Iran on behalf of the United States to cool tensions between the two nations.
According to four U.S. officials, Paul’s proposal included discussing with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reducing tensions that have boiled up within the past months. President Trump reportedly approved of Paul’s idea.
Zarif will be in New York this week for U.N. meetings, and it is currently uncertain if Paul will actually meet with the Iranian foreign minister.
Iran has said that the sanctions applied to their nation and top government officials signaled a “permanent” end to diplomatic solutions, as the two nations have been exhibiting militaristic behavior that has been spurred by government officials in both Washington and Tehran.
For months, President Trump appeared unwilling to take direct military action against Iran, having called off a planned drone strike that was reportedly going to kill 150 people after Iran reportedly shot down a U.S. drone they claim was flying over their airspace.
Tehran has said that it would only begin talks once sanctions are lifted, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said talking to the U.S. was like drinking “poison.”
Senator Paul has remained staunchly opposed to foreign intervention, having criticized on numerous occasions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the hawkish sensibilities of National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has been one of the more vocal supporters of taking military action against Iran.
During an April hearing on Capitol Hill, Paul asked Pompeo whether the Trump administration believes it has the authority to take military action against Iran. When Pompeo did not provide a direct answer to that question, Paul warned him that the White House should not pursue such an option.
“You do not have the permission of Congress to go to war with Iran,” said Paul. “Only Congress can declare war.”
– MK. II