President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration and others involved in Iran negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $ 15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance Obama-era nuclear agreement.
In recent weeks, Trump has shown openness to entertain President Emmanuel Macron's plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump's talks with the French leader. Two of those sources said Foreign Ministry officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, which would effectively facilitate the financial sanctions regime the Trump administration has applied to Tehran for more than a year.
Agreements proposed by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by US sanctions. A large part of Iran's economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of this money is frozen in bank accounts worldwide. The $ 1
Although Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions, the president has generally hinted at transparency in considering Macron's pitch to position the Iranian government – a move aimed at bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table and to save the nuclear deal that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.
At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran may need a "short-term letter of credit or loan" that could "get them over a very rough correction." "
Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at this meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked with Iran's policies during the Obama administration, it indicated that" Trump must have signaled openness to Macron's idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute. "" Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif and Zarif a reason to come, "he said.
The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign to exact financial punishment on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his term in office, President Barack Obama followed a different approach to bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table and strangling Iran's economy with sanctions before promising relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in Iran's naked agreement that President Trump called "rotten" – and pulled the United States out of its first term in office.
Trump's flirtation with – if not direct enthusiasm for – chummily sits down with foreign dictators and America's geopolitical enemies are largely driven by his desire for historical photo-sets and to be considered chief negotiators. It is a desire so strong that it can motivate him to grow up years worthy of his own administration's policy work and announcements.
And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he signaled a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times in the past month, including at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president's talks about the deal.
Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials expect Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French agreement or to offer to facilitate some sanctions on Tehran. At the same time, President Trump is also considering meeting Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.
"I think they would like to make a deal. If they do, it's fantastic. And if they don't, that's fine too, Trump told reporters Wednesday. "But they have enormous financial difficulties and the sanctions are getting tougher and tougher." Asked if he would facilitate sanctions against Iran for a meeting with Iran, Trump simply said, "We'll see what happens. I think Iran has tremendous, huge potential."
Foreign Ministry spokesmen, the White House and the Treasury did not comment on this story. A National Security Council spokesman simply referred The Daily Beast to Trump's comments on Wednesday about Iran. Bolton did not comment on Wednesday either.
" At the end, he considered [Bolton] as a burning hell bent on setting fire to someone's agenda that was not in line with his own – including the president's. "
– source close to Mike Pompeo
Trump's willingness to discuss the credit line with the French, Iranians and even Japanese President Shinzo Abe, Bolton frustrated who had for months urged Trump to soften his hard line against the regime in Tehran
Bolton, who vehemently opposed the Macron proposal, left the Trump administration on explicit and mutually bad terms on Tuesday. On his way out of the door, Trump and senior administration officials went out of their way to keep publicly insisting that he was dismissed as Bolton continued announcements of various news outlets that Trump could not fire him because he quit. The former national security adviser and lifelong hawk had ventured so many feathers and made so many enemies in the building that his older colleagues had repeatedly tried to snatch him to Trump for allegedly leaking to the media.
On Tuesday afternoon, Bolton told The Daily Beast to say that the allegations that he was a leaker were "completely false."
At a press conference held shortly after Bolton's exit on Tuesday, neither Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin showed great sympathy for Bolton's falling star in Trumpworld. "It was Ambassador Bolton many times and I disagreed," Pompeo told reporters. "It sure is, but it's true for many people I interact with."
According to those who know Pompeo well, the secretary's public statement was a brilliant understatement.
"In the end, he saw [Bolton] as a burning hell bent on setting fire to someone's agenda that was not in line with his own – including the president's," said a source close to Pompeo who has been discussing Bolton with the secretary recently Pompeo "thinks he is among the most self-centered people he has ever worked with. A talented guy, no doubt, but not someone who was willing to subordinate his ego to the president's foreign policy agenda. "
Whether the president comes to support Macron is unclear, as Trump is known to consider or temporarily back high-profile domestic or foreign policy initiatives, just to quickly backtrack or reverse.