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Defense Secretary Esper Admits Iran’s Government Is Legitimate, U.S. Is Willing To Talk to It

Jan. 13, 2020 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, in an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ Sunday program “Face the Nation,” admitted that the current government of Iran is legitimate. “You can see the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government, a different regime,” he said, with respect to the anti-government demonstrations that have erupted since the Tehran admitted on Jan. 11 that it had mistakenly shot down Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752, which had taken off from Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all onboard. Then Esper said: “Well, it is still the legitimate government, if you will, of Iran. And what we’ve said, I’ve said publicly, the President certainly has said, is we will meet with them. We’re willing to sit down and discuss without precondition, a new way forward—a series of steps by which Iran becomes a more normal country.”

Otherwise Esper did not confirm the existence of any evidence that an attack on Americans had been “imminent” on Jan. 3, which was the excuse for the Jan. 3 assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, but said he “shared the President’s view” that U.S. embassies were going to be attacked. Asked by Brennan if there had been a specific or tangible threat, Esper said: “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.” Esper then went on: “What I’m saying is I share the President’s view that, probably, my expectation was that they were going to go after our embassies.

“We had information that there was going to be an attack within a matter of days that would be broad in scale, in other words more than one country, and that it would be bigger than previous attacks, likely going to take us into open hostilities with Iran. We had every expectation to believe this would happen. That threat has been disrupted.”

In a separate interview on CNN, Esper said, “What the President said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well.” He stated that “There was intelligence that there was an intent to target the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.”

Esper’s view takes its credibility from the history of major bombings of U.S. military/diplomatic facilities by both Iranian and Sunni groups dating back to the early 1980s.

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