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Trump mulls aggressive Iran strategy, curbs weighed

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive US responses to Iran’s forces, its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups, according to six current and former US officials.

The proposal was prepared by Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser HR McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday, the sources said.

It could be agreed and made public before the end of September, two of the sources said. All of the sources are familiar with the draft and requested anonymity because Trump has yet to act on it.

In contrast to detailed instructions handed down by President Barack Obama and some of his predecessors, Trump is expected to set broad strategic objectives and goals for US policy but leave it to US military commanders, diplomats and other US officials to implement the plan, said a senior administration official.

“Whatever we end up with, we want to implement with allies to the greatest extent possible,” the official added.

The White House declined to comment.

The plan is intended to increase the pressure on Teheran to curb its ballistic missile programmes and support for militants, several sources said.

“I would call it a broad strategy for the range of Iranian malign activities: financial materials, support for terror, destabilisation in the region, especially Syria and Iraq and Yemen,” said another senior administration official.

The proposal also targets cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation, the official said.

The administration is still debating a new stance on a 2015 agreement, sealed by Obama, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. The draft urges consideration of tougher economic sanctions if Iran violates the 2015 agreement.

Reuters