Middle East

Former U.S. officials urge Trump administration to work with Iran opposition

Amb. John Bolton on the Trump administration and the Iranian opposition

 

EXCLUSIVE: Nearly two dozen former top U.S. government officials have urged President-elect Donald Trump to work with Iran's opposition once in office, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

A letter signed by 23 former officeholders calls on Trump to consult with the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The group has called for free elections and freedom of religion in Iran, as well as an end to what it calls Tehran's "religious dictatorship." 

READ THE LETTER

While the Iranian government calls the group terrorists, the NCRI’s network of supporters in Iran helped the U.S. with intelligence during the Iraq invasion. The group also helped expose Iran's nascent nuclear weapons program.

"Iran's rulers have directly targeted US strategic interests, policies and principles, and those of our allies and friends in the Middle East," the letter reads, in part. "To restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy."

The letter's signatories include former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Sen. Joe Lieberman; and retired Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton. 

IRAN DISSIDENTS SEEKING MEETING WITH TRUMP

Last month, Fox obtained a letter to Trump from a group of Iranian dissidents that urged the president-elect to follow through on his campaign promise to revisit the nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers, including the U.S.

"I think what's being offered here is to say, 'Look, there is an opposition in Iran,'" former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told Fox News. "It's a lot of different pieces, like all opposition movements [and] a lot of the groups don't get on well together, but let's be clear: There is an alternative to the ayatollahs."

The Trump transition team has not given any official response to the letter, and it's unclear whether Trump has any plans to take a meeting with Iran dissidents and groups.

Earlier Sunday, Iran's deputy foreign minister told reporters that "the new U.S. administration cannot abandon the deal." Abbas Araghchi added that the agreement "will not be renegotiated" and repeated an earlier warning by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who publicly stated, "If they tear it up, we will burn it," without elaborating.

Fox News' Eric Shawn and Ben Evansky contributed to this report.