1. Is the US on the Brink of War With Iran?
Administration officials insist that the US is not gearing up for a military confrontation with Iran. Although the US will act to defend itself, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that Trump "does not want war" and the president has said he's open to negotiating with Tehran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also says his country doesn't want to "wage war with any nation." But Iranian officials have announced they will soon exceed caps on its uranium stockpile that were set by the 2015 US nuclear deal with Iran. They also question whether Trump can be trusted to negotiate, given that the president pulled the country out of the deal last year.
Experts worry the current impasse could lead either side to misinterpret threats or aggressive moves, which could spiral into a full-fledged conflict. "Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation," acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan has told reporters.
Trump says the US will never allow Tehran to have nuclear weapons and says economic sanctions will stay in place until Iran not only gives up its nuclear ambitions, but ends its ballistic missile program and stops funding militants in the region. Standing firm, Rouhani says his nation will be able to withstand the biting US economic sanctions that are crippling its economy.