Stories by Alex Vatanka

Expert Voices

On Iran, Trump administration offers heated rhetoric but vague strategy

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley address the media after their meeting with UN Secretary General at United Nations Headquarters in New York
Secretary of State Pompeo and UN Ambassador Haley at UN headquarters in New York, on July 20, 2018, two days before his California speech. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s much-awaited Iran speech yesterday was symbolically important but lacking in new substance. The Trump administration, as Pompeo put it, will one way or another force Iran's Islamist regime into a corner, but he did not specify how or to what end.

Why it matters: Pompeo’s speech had for weeks been touted as the moment Washington would unveil its grand strategy to end the Islamic Republic, but its approach is still unclear. What's clear, at least for now, is that the main U.S. tool of pressure against Tehran remains the imposition of stiff sanctions.

Expert Voices

Trump's Iran deal exit a possible nudge toward regime change

protesters in Tehran
Students in Tehran protest the rising cost of living in Iran. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

That the 2015 nuclear deal has so far delivered on its core promise is not in dispute by most observers. If Iran today chooses to dash for a nuclear weapon it will be found out, thanks to the restraints imposed on it by the deal.

Yes, but: The performance of the deal was not the key factor in President Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the agreement. His decision points to the greater aim of bringing about regime change in Tehran, as suggested by his appeal to the Iranian people to rise up and reclaim their country from the Islamist dictatorship.