Esper: U.S. Does Not Expect More Iranian Retaliatory Attacks

Defense Secretary Mark Esper. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the Trump administration foresees no more Iranian military attacks in retaliation for the U.S. strike that killed the Islamic Republic’s most powerful general. The Pentagon chief suggested that Iran’s government is under internal threat following its downing of a Ukrainian civilian airliner.

“You can see the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime,” Esper told CBS.

Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the Ukrainian flight on Wednesday and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the immediate aftermath. Later the government took the blame for the shootdown, saying it was a tragic accident. The plane crash killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians.

Esper said Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force still presents a threat across the Mideast, but the specific attacks he said were being planned by the late Quds Force leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, have been “disrupted.”

Esper also said the Trump administration’s offer to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran without precondition still stands.