Trump’s patience with Iran ‘won’t last forever,’ warns top aide

The U.S. official made his remarks as  prominent member of Iran’s powerful Guardian Council told AP that Tehran should stop honoring all terms of the collapsing 2015 nuclear deal.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

“Patience toward Iran won’t last forever,” says U.S. Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, quoted by the Israel Hayom daily.

The aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Israel and made his comments on Wednesday in a briefing with Israeli journalists, according to the newspaper.

“[President Donald] Trump is doing everything he can to avoid a military confrontation with Iran,” Schenker said.

Meanwhile, a prominent member of Iran’s powerful Guardian Council has told The Associated Press that the Islamic Republic should stop honoring all terms of the collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers amid tensions with the United States.

The comments by Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei show an increasing willingness among Iran’s hard-liners to use the country’s atomic program to pressure Western powers.

Nonproliferation experts are already concerned that steps Tehran has taken over the past months away from the accord narrow the estimated year it would need to build a nuclear bomb if it chose to pursue one.

Completely abandoning the deal as Kadkhodaei suggests could lead to an immediate confrontation. Israel, which has bombed Iraq and Syria in the past to stop their atomic programs, repeatedly has warned it won’t allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

“I think those who disrupted the game should be punished since they damaged other parties’ interests,” Kadkhodaei said in an interview with the AP in Tehran.

Kadkhodaei serves on the 12-member Guardian Council, a panel of six clerics appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists nominated by Iran’s hard-line judiciary.

According to Schenker, Iran is expressing its “frustrations under the heavy pressure, but President Trump has practiced strategic patience and has avoided using military force. But how long will this patience last?”

Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement in May 2018, saying the deal didn’t go far enough to stop Iran’s ballistic missile program and what he described as Tehran’s malign influence across the wider Mideast.

Israel Hayom says that Schenker’s comments fall in line with recent statements by a U.S. official with ties to the administration, who had been cited by the daily as warning that there was a significant possibility that the U.S. would attack Iran before the American presidential election is held in exactly a year.