Trump's national security adviser suggests Iran has been 'choked off' by sanctions, but Trump says he 'couldn't care less' if Iran wants to negotiate

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  • President Donald Trump on Sunday said he "couldn't care less" if US sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table.
  • His Twitter comments came after the US national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and said the "maximum-pressure campaign" against Iran was working.
  • "Iran is being choked off, and Iran is going to have no other choice but to come to the table," he said.
  • Tensions between Iran and the US have flared since Trump ordered the killing of Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in an airstrike earlier this month. Iran responded by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting US and Iraqi military personnel.

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he "couldn't care less" if US sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table.

In a tweet on Sunday night, Trump responded to statements made by his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, who had earlier suggested that sanctions and protests had left Iran "choked off" and would force the country to negotiate.

During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," O'Brien said the "maximum-pressure campaign" of sanctions against Iran was working.

"Iran is being choked off, and Iran is going to have no other choice but to come to the table," he said.

Trump later sent a tweet quoting O'Brien's "choked off" comment and responding to it.

"Actually, I couldn't care less if they negotiate," Trump tweeted. "Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and 'don't kill your protesters.'"

Tensions between Iran and the US have flared since Trump ordered the killing of Iran's top military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in an airstrike earlier this month.

Iran retaliated last week by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting US and Iraqi troops. The missile strikes did not result in any deaths or injuries.

Hours later, however, Iran shot down a Ukraine International Airlines soon after it took off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 people on board. Iran said it was an accident that took place as the country was expecting a US counterattack for the missile strikes.

The Trump administration announced new sanctions against Iran on Friday, a continuation of the so-called maximum-pressure campaign against the country.

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Tehran over the weekend, furious over the shooting down of the plane and demanding the resignation of the country's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But experts have argued that the maximum-pressure campaign has not led to a change in Iran's behavior.

Seth G. Jones, the director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a report earlier this month that the US needed to "credibly demonstrate that its policy toward Iran is not a blueprint for an endless struggle, but instead an effort to encourage Iran to be more democratic and open, as political and economic change must be driven by Iranians themselves."

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